Can Eye Wash Stations Harbour Legionella Bacteria?

Emergency eye wash stations & legionellaSome bodies of water are better-known as potential sources of Legionalla bacteria than others. Consider hot tubs and cooling towers, for example. Yet while some locations are often highlighted in this way, others rarely hit the headlines, even though they are still potential problem areas.

Dirty eye wash stations

Emergency eye wash stations are a good example of this. In themselves, they can be an essential form of first aid in situations where workers have foreign bodies in their eyes. Some are provided as sterile kits, which remain sterile until they are used. However, there are also more permanent types of eye wash stations that can be potentially prone to harbouring Legionella bacteria if they are not checked and kept clean in the appropriate manner on a regular basis.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration

Maintenance is the key here. Indeed, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in the US has found that water held in eye wash stations that are not maintained in the proper manner can harbour Legionella bacteria. The lack of regular maintenance can lead to the proliferation of various organisms, of which legionella is just one.

Biofilm build-up

Biofilms are more likely to build up in some locations than in others. An eye wash station is a good example of where this can happen. Since the station won’t be in regular use, it would be all too easy for bacteria to multiply and create a biofilm in this setting.

This is why any location or workplace that has one or more eye wash stations should ensure they form part of their regular and in-depth legionella risk assessment, cleaning and monitoring system. Regular testing can help identify the levels of bacteria present in this area, so steps can be taken to reduce it if necessary.

Appointing a responsible person

Appointing a competent or responsible person to handle this is essential. Keeping records of testing and the results – in relation to eye wash stations and all other potential sources of Legionella bacteria – is a good way of ensuring the situation is managed. Eye wash stations do pose a particular risk as the bacteria is carried in small water droplets that could then be inhaled by the user. The very nature of an eye wash station makes this a distinct possibility.

Health and Safety at Work Act 1974

The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 covers the management of legionella in several different sections. Making sure you are familiar with the legislation will help manage any and all risks in your workplace.

Expert Legionella testing and risk management support

To find out more about our expert Legionella risk assessment, water testing (water sampling) and risk management support services call us today on 0330 223 36 86 or get in touch here … contact us

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Further reading

For additional information about emergency eye wash stations and showers … here