Washington State University
Environmental Health & Safety Emergency Showers

Emergency Showers

  • Emergency showers are needed when there is potential for major portions of an employee’s body to contact corrosives, strong irritants, toxic or skin-absorptive chemicals (See SPPM 5.15 – Eyewashes and Safety Showers).
  • Emergency showers consist of a shower head controlled by a stay-open valve, operated by an approved control valve actuator, and capable of delivering water that cascades over the user’s entire body at no less than 75 liters per minute (20 gallons per minute) for at least fifteen minutes. Emergency showers are tested annually by Facilities Operations to ensure the valve is operating, all debris is removed from the system, and there is sufficient water flow. Unlike emergency eyewashes, laboratory personnel should not activate the emergency shower unless there is a true emergency in which water drenching of the entire body is required. Weekly testing of an emergency shower is NOT required of laboratory personnel. Facilities Operations use special equipment to capture and contain the large volumes of water dispensed from an emergency shower.
  • Where required, it should take no more than ten (10) seconds for laboratory personnel to reach the emergency shower AND the shower must also be present within fifty (50) feet of the potential hazard. *DO NOT BLOCK ACCESS TO THE EMERGENCY SHOWER. Perform routine self-inspections to ensure carts, boxes, and trash/waste are not impeding emergency shower access. Do not store items near emergency showers that would create an additional hazard in an emergency (e.g. chemicals and/or glassware stored around emergency showers can be broken in the course of the employee’s travel to or activation of the shower).
  • Every laboratory worker should be familiar with the location of all safety showers in the area and how to use them.
  • When used, remove contaminated apparel, flush contaminated area of body for fifteen (15) minutes or according to the safety data sheet or other available safety information and obtain medical attention.
  • The presence of an emergency shower does not replace the need for personal protective equipment.
  • For additional information, see Fact Sheets Emergency Washing Facilities-Determining Need & Location and Emergency Washing Facilities-Specifications, Responsibilities, & Training.” See alsoDOSH Directive 13.00 Emergency Washing Facilities.