FOR YOUR EYES ONLY

Current OSHA regulations require that emergency eyewash stations be provided whenever employees may come into contact with chemicals that can cause corrosion, severe irritation, or permanent tissue damage. See Title 8 CCR 5162 (CA) or 29 CFR 1910.151(c) (Fed). Battery charging, battery filling, used battery storage (when the electrolyte may be released due to the condition of the battery), use or dispensing of corrosive chemicals or irritants (often occurring in detail) are processes that require the installation of an eyewash station. Courts have often upheld ANSI standards in enforcement actions.    

OSHA regulations refer to ANSI standards for greater detail in standards and in opinion letters, require employers to refer to ANSI standards regarding eyewash stations.  OSHA inspectors also rely on ANSI standards during enforcement when OSHA regulations fall short on detail. ANSI revised the eyewash standard in 2014 and all eyewash manufacturers follow the latest 2014 standard Z358.1-2014.  This standard is a widely accepted guideline for the proper selection, installation, operation, and maintenance of emergency eyewash station equipment. An interesting discussion on legal implications of ANSI standards is found here https://www.lomont.com/documents/Dembystandardsarticle3-21-2006.pdf. In summary, an employer is well served by complying with ANSI standards. 

ANSI standards should be referred by all employers https://www.gesafety.com/downloads/ANSIGuide.pdf.  This newsletter does not cover all necessary elements of the standard.  We merely summarize some important elements as follows: 

Note 1:     Water hoses, sinks, faucets, showers, and eyewash bottles (sometimes included in first-aid kits) do not comply with Cal/OSHA eyewash standards.  

Note 2:     If there is a water line available in the shop area, then the plumbed unit is preferred as the wall mounted tank requires more maintenance and is expensive to maintain.  Also, if a tech uses the wall mounted unit at 9am, the tech requiring it at 10am goes blind!!! 

Note 3:     The eyewash units should have proper drain available to address the water draining from the unit.  If the unit cannot be plumbed to the shop drain, a 5-gallon plastic bucket can be placed under the eyewash station and disposed of periodically. 

Note 4:     In certain cases, a door opening in the direction of the walking person may be allowed. However, if the chemical hazard is caustic or corrosive such as battery acid in the automobiles, or battery acid in parts departments, then the eyewash station should be directly available and not through a door. 

Note 5:     The handheld drench units support plumbed and self-contained emergency eyewash stations but cannot replace them. In other words, drench hoses are intended only as supplemental units. 

Note 6:     Water temperature delivered shall be tepid (60-100F). 

Note 7:     Use an eyewash tester to ensure water flow covers eyes at no more than 8” above the spray heads. https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0320/3232/5768/files/Speakman_SE-952_Spec-Sheet.pdf 

All employers must use a checklist to ensure proper operation of the eyewash and an annual performance check (akin to a preventive maintenance) on the eyewash.  The checklist as summarized from ANSI is as follows: 

  • Inspection Frequency: Activate all eyewash stations at least weekly. Inspect all eyewash units annually for compliance with the ANSI Z358.1 standard. 
  • Location: The eyewash station must be located within 10 seconds from the hazard, approximately 55 feet from the hazard. The eyewash station must be located on the same plane as the hazard, and the travel path to the eyewash station must be unobstructed (no doors with handles to open; see Note 4).  
  • Identification: The area around the eyewash station must be well lit, and the unit must include a highly visible sign.
  • The eyewash station washes both eyes simultaneously, and the water flow allows the user to hold the eyes open without exceeding 8 inches above the spray heads. See Note 5. 
  • Spray heads are protected from airborne contaminants. Covers are pushed open by water flow. 
  • The eyewash station delivers at least 0.4 gallons of water per minute for 15 minutes and should have a minimum tank capacity size of 6 gallons. 
  • The water flow pattern should be 33 to 53 inches from floor level and at least 6 inches from the wall or nearest obstruction.   
  • The equipment should stay hands-free with a stay open valve that activates in one second or less. Please note that any valves placed on the supply line to the eyewash station must have their handles removed so no one accidentally shuts down the water supply to the eyewash station. 

Other Important Items: 

  • Clearance: To ensure eyewash units are not obstructed, it is highly recommended that a “Do Not Block” parameter is established. The use of hazard tape can facilitate proper clearance.  
  • Training: All employees who may be exposed to potential eye/face injuries from hazardous material should be trained on the operation of the eyewash unit. This includes where to locate the nearest eyewash unit and the importance of keeping the path to the unit obstruction free.
  • The eyewash station must have clearance 48 inches from the back wall or obstruction and 30 inches total (on sides) with the eyewash station present in the center.  27 inches knee clearance below the unit.
  • The ANSI standard requires that employers provide an accessible workplace to all employees. The eyewash stations must meet wheelchair accessibility requirements as well.
  • A single step up into an enclosure where the equipment can be accessed is not considered to be an obstruction. Additionally, installers should allow for adequate overhead clearance to accommodate the presence of cabinets over a counter or faucet-mounted emergency eyewash so as not to create an additional hazard that could be encountered when using the device. 
  • Purchasing equipment that is manufactured according to ANSI standards and maintenance and inspection of the equipment according to ANSI standards should be considered mandatory to all employers
  • OSHA considers violation of this standard to be a “Serious Violation.”  Penalty is $13,653.  Cost of an eyewash on Amazon is $120 (for wall mounted tank) and $200 for a plumbed unit.  No cost benefit analysis needed here. 

Does Parts Need an Eyewash:  The answer is yes according to CA OSHA Appeals Board (COSHAB) decision.  See Dockets 11-R3D2-1929 through 1931.  A big box warehouse store with multiple outlets in California was cited by Cal/OSHA for failure to have eye wash stations.  The employer appealed to COSHAB stating that the eye wash standard does not apply as the chemicals are merely unloaded, unboxed and placed on shelves in sealed containers by employees.  COSHAB held that the employees can be exposed to leaks and spills from packages damaged in transit and when employees unpack these cases.  Employees involved in cleanup in the warehouse where there is a spill have the potential to an eye injury from corrosive and irritating chemical, hence the requirement of an eyewash in the warehouse.

DISCLAIMER:  The contents of this newsletter are merely for informational purposes only and are not to be considered as legal advice. Employers must consult their lawyer for legal matters and EPA/OSHA consultants for matters related to Environmental, Health & Safety. The article was authored by Sam Celly of Celly Services, Inc. who has been helping automobile dealers in Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Texas, and Virginia comply with EPA and OSHA regulations for over 34 years.  Sam is Certified Safety Professional (No. 16515) certified by National Board of Certified Safety Professionals. Sam received his BE (1984) and MS (1986) in Chemical Engineering, followed by a J.D. from Southwestern University School of Law (1997).  Our newsletters can be accessed at www.epaoshablog.com.  Your comments/questions are always welcome.  Please send them to sam@cellyservices.com.

California Proposition 65: Signs and Details

Proposition 65 has been a requirement for employers and retailers for many years. In 2018, the signs and notifications were changed to include language that notified the public of chemical hazards they had the potential to get exposed to. In the recent few days, we have received a few questions regarding the signs, the size requirements, and the posting requirements.  We must note that there are no new regulations here. This newsletter is merely a review of the changes that took effect in 2018. 

California’s Proposition 65, also called the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act, was enacted in 1986. It is intended to help Californians make informed decisions about protecting themselves from chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harm. The law had certain nuances not normally seen in toxic chemical regulations. The specific ones that catch our attention are as follows:

  • No Harm Requirement: Most of the regulations require that an actual harm be done before damages be awarded. In this case, the absence of mere warning was sufficient cause for dealers to cough up big money. A penalty of $2500 per day!
  • Standing: In order to litigate, a plaintiff must allege some connection to and actual or potential harm. Under this unique law, without harm but the mere absence of notice was sufficient cause for payment to plaintiff lawyers.
  • Bounty Hunter Clause: Proposition 65 is enforced entirely through litigation. While California’s AG is vested with principal enforcement, Proposition 65 also allows any individual or organization “acting in public interest” to sue for violations. The individuals or organizations can potentially collect attorney fees and 25% of any penalties assessed. Reportedly, 20,000 businesses have paid more than $600 million in penalties since 1987. This makes the case to use your $200 sign kit even stronger!

What Are the Most Significant Changes to the Proposition 65 Warnings For Consumer Products?

Since the original warning requirements took effect in 1988, most Proposition 65 warnings simply stated that a chemical is present that causes cancer or reproductive harm, but they did not identify the chemical or provide specific information about how a person may be exposed or ways to reduce or eliminate exposure to it. New OEHHA regulations, which take effect in August 2018, change the safe harbor warnings which are deemed to comply with the law in several important ways. For example, the new warnings for consumer products will say the product “can expose you to” a Proposition 65 chemical rather than saying the product “contains” the chemical. They will also include:

  • The name of at least one listed chemical that prompted the warning
  • The Internet address for OEHHA’s new Proposition 65 warnings website, http://www.P65Warnings.ca.gov, which includes additional information on the health effects of listed chemicals and ways to reduce or eliminate exposure to them
  • A triangular yellow warning symbol “ ” on most warnings

What Are Other Highlights of the New Warnings System?

The new warning regulation also:

  • Adds new “tailored” warnings that provide more specific information for certain kinds of exposures, products, and places.
  • Provides information for website warnings for products purchased over the Internet
  • Provides information for warnings in languages other than English in some cases
  • Clarifies the roles and responsibilities of manufacturers and retailers in providing warnings.

What is the Purpose of the New Proposition 65 Warnings (effective 2018) Website?

People who read Proposition 65 warnings and want to learn more can go to the website to find additional information about chemicals and best practices for reducing or eliminating exposures. The website contains fact sheets about Proposition 65 chemicals and specific types of exposure, anything from furniture products to enclosed parking facilities. It also answers frequently asked questions about Proposition 65 and includes a glossary of Proposition 65 terms.

Will Businesses Be Required to Provide the New Warnings?

Using the safe harbor warnings is an effective way for businesses to protect themselves against Proposition 65 enforcement actions. Businesses that use the safe harbor warnings are deemed compliant with the law’s requirement for clear and reasonable warnings.

What Circumstances Will Require Warnings in Languages Other Than English?

When a consumer product sign, label or shelf tag used to provide a warning includes consumer information in a language other than English, the warning must also be provided in that language in addition to English. Facilities that provide signage in non-English languages would also have to provide any required warnings in those languages, in addition to English.

For Internet purchases, warnings can be provided by including a clearly marked hyperlink using the word WARNING on the product display page.

What Are the Warning Responsibilities for Manufacturers and Retailers?

The new system clarifies that manufacturers have the primary responsibility for providing Proposition 65 warnings. Manufacturers can choose whether to put warning labels on their products or to provide notices to their distributors, importers or retail outlets that a product may cause an exposure to a listed chemical that requires a warning provide warning signs or other warning materials. Manufacturers can also enter written agreements with retailers to modify this allocation of responsibility as long as the consumer receives a clear and reasonable warning before her or she is exposed to a Proposition 65 chemical.

Retailers must confirm that they received the notice and must use the warning signs or other materials provided by the manufacturer. We attach information related to proposition 65 signs as they may apply to your facility. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

1. Label: Environmental Exposure
Where to Post: All Public Entrances to Showroom.
Size/Font: 72 font
Language Warning: English and in any other language used on other signage at the facility.
2. Label: Food Facilities
Where to Post: Waiting areas or any other areas that sells/serves food
Size/Font: 28 font 8.5”x11”
Language Warning: English and in any other language used on other signage or menus provided at the facility.
3. Label: Smoking Area(s)
Where to Post: Smoking area(s)
Size/Font: 22 font 8.5”x11”
Language Warning: English and in any other language used on other signage in the affected area.
4. Label: Vehicle Exposure Warnings
Where to Post: Driver’s side window of all new and used passenger vehicles for sale
Size/Font: No font size required but 12 font is recommended
Language Warning: No foreign language requirement, but include warning labels on the vehicle in other languages if the vehicle has sale signs in other languages.
5. Label: Vehicle Repair Facilities
Where to Post: All public entrances to service department
Size/Font: 32 font (enclosed in a box)
Language Warning: English and in any
other language used on other signage at the facility.
6. Label: Service Stations & Gas Pumps
Where to Post: Each gas pump
Size/Font: 22 font (enclosed in a box)
Language Warning: English and in any other language used on other signage at the facility.
7. Label: Occupational Exposure
Where to Post: Employee break area(s)
Size/Font: No font size required
Language Warning: English and in any other language used on other signage at the break area.
8. Label: Enclosed Parking Facilities
Where to Post: All entrances to parking structures that have an enclosed ceiling
Size/Font: 72 font
Language Warning: English and if other permanent entrance signage is provided in
any other language at the facility.
9.Label: Lead and Lead Compounds
Where to Post: Parts Counter at front and back.
Size/Font: 32 font
Language Warning: English and in any other language used on other signage at the facility.

Disclaimer:  There is no warranty implied or direct or whatsoever as to the completeness or applicability of these signs presented here.  The dealership must use the Proposition 65 Handbook published by California New Car Dealers Association to stay compliant.  The new CNCDA Proposition 65 Handbook is available upon login in the CNCDA Publications.  Guidance on Proposition 65 from California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) is available at https://oehha.ca.gov/proposition-65 and must be reviewed to ensure compliance.