Maryland employees should be aware that, on Aug. 7, OSHA warned that using an emergency eyewash station that has not been properly maintained could lead to infection. These eyewash stations may be found in workplaces where corrosive chemicals are used, in research laboratories that deal with HIV and HBV and in medical facilities.
OSHA found that the water in these eyewash systems may contain certain organisms, such as Legionella, that reproduce and thrive in untreated or stagnant water. If a worker suffers an accident involving a corrosive material, damage to the affected eye may have occurred, allowing the organisms to be able to enter the body. Workers may also be particularly susceptible if they suffered damage to the skin or had compromised immune systems.
In order to maintain these systems, OSHA recommended that each station be activated at least once weekly to eliminate hazards associated with stagnant water. Employers should be aware of the proper solutions to use in the eyewash stations and can consult the manufacture's instructions when flushing the systems.
Employers are responsible for monitoring their workplaces in order to reduce potential hazards. This includes any safety systems that are in place. If these safety systems are not properly maintained and an employee suffers an injury as a result, that employee may be eligible to file a claim for workers' compensation benefits. These benefits can include a percentage of wages lost while the victim was absent from work as well as medical care and treatment. A workers' compensation attorney can often be of assistance throughout the process.