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Techniques in Trainings – Eye Saving Blindness Drill

- September 7, 2016 by Tom Keel (View all posts by Tom)

When seconds mean the difference between blindness and normal vision, it can be permanently disastrous when an employee wastes time scrambling around in a darkened panic for the eyewash station. The best way to avoid this is to ensure your team knows the direction and the number of paces to the nearest eyewash station.  Last week, my colleague wrote a Techniques in Training blog about the importance of wearing safety glasses.  This week, I have another eye safety “Techniques in Trainings” to share.   In this post, I’ll be reviewing an effective way of training employees to blindly locate first aid equipment during an emergency.  

Pin the Tail on the Plumbed Eyewash Station

To start this training exercise, situate your team between 20-35 feet away from an eyewash station and ask for a volunteer who does not wear corrective contact lenses. Blindfold your volunteer (or grab your painted glasses that you used last week) and get your stop watch or smart phone timer ready. Once their vision is blacked out, announce that their face has been splashed with a chemical and they have 30 seconds to get to the nearest eyewash station before they become permanently blind.

The surprise won’t be as severe as a real emergency. However, it will demonstrate to the others watching that being in a panic makes it extremely difficult if one doesn’t know where the eyewash station is, or can’t remember where they were in relation to it when they came into contact with a chemical.

While your volunteer is hurrying to find the eye wash station, watch to make sure he doesn’t walk into an unsafe area or trip on anything – injuring someone during safety training is never a good thing!   When your volunteer makes it to the eyewash station stop the timer.  Then have them remove the blindfold and proceed with flushing their eyes out (this is why you found a volunteer not wearing contact lenses). 

Remind your audience that getting to the station is only half the battle—they also have to remember how to perform the flush. Operating the eye wash during the drill not only teaches your employee how it works but also is a great way to test that your eye wash is functioning properly.  After about a minute, tell the volunteer he/she can stop flushing, but remind everyone that most safety data sheets suggest flushing for 15 minutes.

Drill, Baby, Drill

Repeat the drill with several volunteers, but start each one from a different location. Use a timer to time each employee, and later discuss with the group how long it took each person to reach the eyewash station and what the dangers of taking too long are.  Practicing this drill once a month will help employees remember where the nearest eyewash station is, approximately how many paces it is to get to it, and will motivate your employees to keep their work areas clean and eye washing free of obstructions. 

This example was specific to eyewash stations for splashes and spills, but it works equally well for any type of first aid equipment, including fire extinguishers and medical kits.  

Have you tried this type of exercise before with your team? If so, I’d love to hear about any modifications that are specific to your worksite. Please share your feedback in the comments section.