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The risks of contaminated eyewash water

New Jersey workers know that workplace safety is very important. There must be vigilance and proper maintenance to ensure that workers have protection and access to emergency supplies. If details are overlooked, workers might be exposed to infection and other preventable consequences. Such is the case with eyewash water: if it is not maintained properly, it can become contaminated.

OSHA has recently warned of the risks involved to workers if the eyewash water provided for them at their workplace is not properly maintained and becomes contaminated. The risks involve infection, due to organisms such as Acanthamoeba and Pseudomonas, that can grow in clean, improperly-maintained, stagnant water. This water can then come into contact with the worker's eyes, skin or even be inhaled. The risk is higher for workers who have been in accidents involving hazardous chemicals or other materials that might have left the worker with injuries to the eye, those with damaged skin or who have weaker immune systems due to conditions such as cancer, lupus or organ transplants.

Not all facilities are required to have eyewash stations. However, locations where workers use or deal with corrosive chemicals, or where research is conducted on HIV or HBV, as well as in workplaces where workers' eyes might be exposed to solutions containing at least 0.1 percent formaldehyde are mandated by laws to have them. Additionally, workplaces such as research laboratories, production laboratories and other medical facilities might also provide eyewash stations for their workers.

According the OSHA recommendations, workplaces should activate plumbed systems weekly to eliminate the risk of bacteria growing in the eyewash water. The only solutions used should be those that are appropriate for flushing the eyes. Workplaces are also responsible for following the maintenance recommendations of the manufacturers of their systems. Workers injured on the job due to contaminated eyewash water might decide to file a claim to receive workers' compensation, and a lawyer might be able to help them receive those benefits.

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