Emergency Washing Equipment


Emergency washing equipment (EWE) is provided in UW facilities for the purpose of rinsing chemicals or other harmful agents from the eyes or skin. It is an important safety tool that can prevent or limit damage to the body from exposure to harmful agents. Examples include:

Eye wash

Eye washes are required in areas where any of the following agents are used: corrosives; strong irritants; or toxic chemicals of concern. An eyewash is also required in a BSL-2 or BSL-3 laboratory, regardless of whether the above agents are used.

Drench hose

Single-headed emergency washing device connected to flexible hose used to irrigate and flush the face or other parts of the body.

Safety shower

A safety shower is required in areas where any corrosives, strong irritants or toxic chemicals of concern are used in quantities and processes that could result in a substantial portion of the body being impacted.

What you need to know

Are you are involved in a process that requires emergency washing equipment? If yes, verify the following:

  1. It is the right equipment.

  2. It is accessible.

  3. The equipment is properly maintained.

  4. You know where it is located and how to use it in an emergency.

To be accessible, emergency washing equipment must be:

  1. Free of physical obstructions that inhibit use

  2. No greater than 50 feet travel distance from the process of concern

  3. Along a path of travel without obstructions (a locked door, or a door that could be locked to prevent access is considered an obstruction)

Departments are responsible for activating eye wash and drench hose equipment once per week to verify proper operation.  

UW Facilities is responsible for checking safety showers annually to verify proper operation.

A drench hose is not a conforming emergency eye wash but may be used as a supplementary washing device.

What you can do to stay safe

Make sure you know where the emergency washing equipment is located and how to use it in an emergency.

Refer to Section Four of the Laboratory Safety Manual for information on emergency washing equipment.

Services available

EH&S provides the following services:

  1. Evaluate the need for EWE in laboratories and other UW facilities.

  2. Assist UW Facilities with capital planning projects and evaluating the need for EWE, the best type and location of EWE to install, and commissioning of EWE as part of new and renovated UW facilities.

  3. Assist with retrofit installations of EWE through the Capital Safety Program.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Contact EH&S and request an evaluation.  

The eye wash must be tested weekly.  

Place a work order with your building management to have it evaluated and repaired.  

Refer to Section Four of the Lab Safety Design Guide for this information. Contact EH&S to discuss specifics.

Generally no; the exception is when plumbed water is not available.

More information


are substances that can cause destruction of living tissue by chemical action (e.g. acids with a pH=2.5 or less, caustics with a pH=11 or greater).

are designed to rinse the eyes only

are designed to wash the eyes and part of the face.  

is designed to rinse an area of the body under conditions where an eyewash or safety shower are not as effective.  Drench hoses are considered supplemental and do not replace the need for an eyewash or safety shower.

are designed to rinse the entire body

are substances that can cause a strong temporary inflammatory effect on tissue at the site of contact.

of concern are substances that produce a serious injury or illness by absorption through the skin or other body surfaces such as the eyes.


John Kelly

(206) 616-3722