If a person is exposed to corrosive or toxic materials, immediately use an eyewash station, drench hose, or emergency shower to flush the material from the affected area! Continue flushing the area for 15 minutes, and remove contaminated clothing while flushing. Call 911 for EMS and hazmat response.

To ensure eyewashes and showers are accessible when an emergency occurs, inspect and flush them each month.

Monthly activation/flushing ensures the following:

  • Eyewash and shower are functioning correctly,
  • Contaminants and stagnant water are removed from the plumbing, and
  • Units are accessible.

Laboratory personnel are required to flush eyewashes and safety showers in all active research spaces.

Flushing is not required while a laboratory space is inactive so long as the equipment is flushed prior to resuming active lab operations and then at least monthly while active. Please post a notice on the eyewash and safety shower if they are not being maintained due to lab inactivity.

Safety supply companies sell the 5-gallon bucket, curtain, and rod to make this task easier. Some labs just use a small tub to collect and dispose of flushed water. Since emergency equipment is often different in each lab building, the lab must use flushing apparatus that works for their particular system.

Teaching Labs

UVM Life Safety staff flush emergency eyewashes and showers located in hallways or teaching laboratories ONLY. These units will have a red barcode tag attached on or near them. If you work in a teaching lab and the eyewash/shower does not have a barcode, contact SOS or your lab safety coordinator to get the room added to the list of teaching labs.

Drench Hoses

If your lab has a dual head drench hose, this may be in place of an eyewash station. In this case, the drench hose must have a stay open valve where the water remains on without needing to hold the handle. 

Some laboratory sinks have a single head drench hose attachment by the lab sink.  This type of drench hose is NOT a substitute for an eyewash or emergency shower but can be used as an extra piece of emergency equipment to remove a chemical from eyes or skin in an emergency.

Monthly Flushing/Activation Procedure

The following steps should be taken at a minimum of every month to ensure the eyewash/shower is accessible and suitable for use in an emergency.

  • Visually inspect the area around the eyewash/shower/drench hose, and remove any clutter or obstructions.
  • Inspect the fixture for corrosion, leaks, or pipe damage and proper placement of protective covers (when applicable).
  • Activate the unit: Ensure that the water flow is continuous. Evaluate that the unit can maintain a flow for 15 minutes, and is not injurous to the user's eye or face (it may not be necessary to run the unit for 15 minutes).
  • Ensure the valve activator stays on unless manually turned off.
  • Feel and ensure the water is tempered - not too cold or too hot. Emergency equipment should have a valve that keeps the water at a tepid temperature - 60°F (16°C) to 100°F (38°C).
  • Sanitize water supply by running the unit until the water runs clear - discharging rust, bacteria, or other contaminants.
  • Record and document: Post an Emergency Eyewash/ Shower Flush & Inspection Log in your laboratory, and record the activation monthly. New flush logs can be obtained by sending an email to safety@uvm.edu.

If there are any issues found when flushing, this may mean that the eyewash/shower/drench hose needs to be flushed more frequently. For instance, if it takes a couple minutes for the water to run clear, increases flushing to twice a month (or more). 

Report Any Malfunctioning Equipment

Malfunctions noted during a monthly activation must be reported to the Lab Supervisor and a Famis work order be submitted for repairs by UVM's Physical Plant Department (PPD). Work activities may have to be limited until the unit is functioning properly.

If the water supply is discolored, then flush at a more frequent interval (weekly).  Please document discoloration or any other unusual finding on the flush log and submit a work order with PPD.


The how to's below describe the most basic procedures for using an eyewash or safety shower. There may be additional steps to take depending on the chemicals used at the time of exposure. 

How to Use An Eyewash

If a chemical gets into a lab worker's eyes, help get them to the nearest eyewash station.

  • With the eyewash on, they should use their hands to force their eyelids open
  • Flush eyes thoroughly for 15 minutes
  • While flushing, have someone call 911

It's important that after someone has flushed their eyes that they go to the hospital for evaluation. Don't skip this step.

If your eyewash is not plumbed directly to a drain, it will also be necessary to have someone call Service Operations Support (SOS) at 802-656-2560, ext. 1 in order to clean up the water on the floor.

How to Use An Emergency Shower

If a lab worker needs to use the safety shower, they should call for help as they activate it. This will alert people to the situation and they can call 911 for medical assistance and and SOS to help control the mess created by the water.

  • Remove any contaminated clothing to prevent prolonged contact on skin
  • Continue washing under the shower for 15 minutes or until emergency medical help arrives
  • Obtain additional medical attention as necessary