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Contaminated eyewash water potential source of infection

Many individuals in New Jersey are employed in workplaces where an eyewash station is required. These facilities are required in any workplace where corrosive chemicals are used, in any HIV or hepatitis-B research facility and in any workplace with a significant risk of formaldehyde being splashed into an employee's eyes. A number of other medical and manufacturing facilities voluntarily maintain eyewash stations.

However, in some cases, the eyewash stations cause infections when they are used. If an employee's eyes have been damaged by a chemical splash, then the risk of infection is higher than normal. If the water in the eyewash station contains organisms that cause infections and the water comes in contact with the eyes or the skin or is inhaled by the employee, infection may result. Workers with skin damage or compromised immune systems are at particular risk. Failure to diagnose and treat infections can result in serious health conditions, including permanent loss of vision and severe lung diseases.

Eyewash stations are breeding grounds for infectious organisms that thrive in stagnant, untreated water. OSHA recommends that eyewash stations be maintained and cleaned on a weekly basis to limit the risk of contamination to the water. Manufacturers of eyewash stations should provide specific instructions regarding the schedule and process for proper maintenance.

People who develop an infection or another ailment due to a contaminated eyewash station may be eligible to file a claim for workers' compensation benefits that could include the provision of necessary medical care and treatment. An attorney can be of assistance in compiling all of the documents that will need to be submitted along with the claim.

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