Specification of emergency equipment comes down to addressing the things you have to respond to, such as mandated regulatory hurdles. But it should also address those things that you should do in nurturing the safest environment possible at the lowest cost, with the least amount of maintenance and downtime. Thatâ€™s where the challenge comes in.
Letâ€™s first look at the regulatory issues, per ANSI Z358.1-2004:
Facility Planning and Design â€” ANSI recommends facilities must be available to adequately treat the maximum number of potential casualties possible in a given situation, recognizing the hazards, the environment and the number of people who could potentially be exposed. Specific requirements:
Operations Management â€” Additionally, plant management is required to undertake several on-going steps to assure proper preparation. Steps include:
Product requirementsAnd then there are requirements established for the emergency showers and combination showers and eyewashes. Often times, these requirements are met by newer equipment, while older installations pre-date the establishment of the specific requirement. In those circumstances, equipment should be updated. Product requirements for emergency showers include:
With respect to eyewashes and eye/face washes, the following requirements are established:
Combination units carry this additional requirement:
Upstream componentsSpecifiers should also be aware that upstream components, such as tempered water mixing valves that do not flow the required maximum volume and pressure while in bypass mode could affect shower or eyewash performance by â€œstarvingâ€ the equipment under those conditions. The ANSI requirement rates the shower, eyewash or combination unit at the outlet of the unit, regardless of upstream circumstances. So specifiers should consider the maximum flow capacity and pressure requirements when specifying upstream componentry.
While not specifically established as requirements, certain product features and installation alternatives allow plant management to more easily comply with the above requirements and do so in the most cost-effective manner. They include:
Flow controls â€” Flow controls minimize the impact of variations in input line pressure on the outlet pressures and flow patterns of emergency equipment. Flow controls are not required, but the effectiveness of your equipment and the likelihood of a victim continuing use of the equipment for the required 15 minute use cycle are greatly enhanced by them.
Diffused flow eyewash and eye/face wash heads â€” Once again, while not a requirement, cushioned flow heads provide much greater comfort to the accident victim. That greater comfort translates into a greater likelihood of using the full 15-minute drench and/or irrigation protocol.
Eyewash and Eye/face wash foot treadle â€” Providing a foot treadle to operate the eyewash or eye/face wash on a combination unit allows the user to operate both pieces of the equipment simultaneously and hands free.
Stainless steel stems in ball valves â€” Actuation valves can take a beating, especially when the adrenaline is flowing in an accident victim. Specifiers should look for stainless steel stems in the ball valves used for actuating emergency equipment.
Easy to grab pull handles â€” Once again, consider the optimal design of a pull handle from the perspective of the accident victim. It should be easy to see (read: substantial), sturdy and easy to use. Designs of pull handles have come a long way since the days when they were just a swinging chain.
Pre-assembly and pre-testing â€” The best of intentions moves us to specify state-of-the-art emergency equipment. However, those intentions can be wasted if the equipment isnâ€™t pre-assembled and 100 percent factory tested prior to shipment. The complexities of emergency equipment are best understood by manufacturers. They design and build the equipment, so they know it best. Specifiers should look for equipment that offers substantial pre-assembly at the factory, where it can (and should) be pre-tested prior to shipment. Pre-testing and pre-assembly of emergency response products enables the best, easiest and lowest cost installation.
Floor drains and non-slip surfaces â€” Even though floor drains are not usually required by code, they are often a good idea. A 15-minute emergency equipment use cycle can generate a lot of water and it can get pretty messy and dangerous in the area surrounding the equipment without them. Itâ€™s always wise to plan for the maximum use of your emergency assets. At a minimum, non-slip surface coatings and/or non-slip mats should be employed.
Enclosed Emergency Environments (E3) â€” There are now tailored, plug-and-play alternatives available that package all necessary elements of your emergency response mechanism into an easy to use booth application. E3s are often the best bet for comprehending all requirements and your specific operating circumstances.
Become familiar with all of the subtleties of ANSI Z358.1 and the products that best meet the requirements, while also being the easiest to install without difficulties. Seek out products that provide the best designs and features, along with pre-assembly and 100 percent factory pre-testing. The result will be high compliance, low maintenance and no headaches.