Pressure Washer Safety
From time to time we find ourselves being challenged by our surroundings, in some of those situations we may be the ones causing the challenge and that is especially true when it comes to the way we handle our equipment. For the most part, the equipment we use is pretty basic and uncomplicated, on the other hand, when dealing with a pressure washer, there are a few things that we should be a little more cautious about.
The thing you need to remember about our equipment is that there are several areas that need to be addressed, like
1)-the safety of the equipment
2)-the right way to use your equipment
3)-your personal safety
Using your equipment
a)-Avoid using a nozzle that gives you little or no control, especially since this can damage the surface that you are working on. A lot of people just dive in and pick up the smallest nozzle available and turn on the machine. You need to be careful with this because some of these smaller nozzles can be so strong they gouge lines into the material you are cleaning. Start lightly on an area you’re working on that won’t be seen so easily so if you mess up it is not a big problem.
b)-Make sure that you have the right cleaning product for the task at hand, remember that there are many products on the market, the cheaper ones may not necessarily satisfy your needs.Also be aware of where the cleaners are flowing to,the wrong place can get you into a lot of trouble.
You can also read here about a news report were a professional pressure washer cleaner mixed the wrong cleaning chemicals and resulted in him getting burns and lacerations.
c)-If you are using your pressure washer to clean the side of your home or office, you should begin the process from the top and work your way to the bottom to avoid streaking.
If in any doubt if you can or can’t reach something just use an extension like this , It is a terrible idea to use a pressure washer on a ladder.
d)-Follow all safety features provided with your pressure washer, they are intended to protect you while you work.So many people forget to do this basic action , never mind that you are missing out of information to keep you safe but more than likely it will tell you how to work the machine properly so that it lasts you longer.
Here is a story from the BBC about some guys who were cleaning with an industrial sized pressure washer and had it explode on them causing all three of them burns.
As the operator, you should know the requirements of your pressure washers and what (if any) risks could be involved. The following precautions should be taken for anyone actually using the equipment.
1)-This is not a toy, in fact if improperly handled it has the ability to cut through skin, don’t point it in the direction of humans or animals. Every month in ER’s around the country someone is wheeled in who tried to wash the dirt or soap off their legs with a pressure washer and ended up going through a few layers of skin. Do not do this , not even for a little second. You can read here about what happened to this guy here who did just this.
To give you a better idea of just how powerful one of these can be take a look at this video or a pressure washer versus a watermelon
2)-Avoid spraying close to electrical wiring, or power lines. This usually happens when people start spraying near roofs and high walls.
3)-Because of the intensity of the spray coming out of the nozzle, users should never operate a pressure washer without wearing goggles, or any other protective device on their face. This is especially true to protect your eyes if you are using cleaning products since the soap can mix with the mist after hitting the surface and enter your eyes. Also you need to make sure your wearing face protection when removing mold as this to can enter your eyes and even get breathed into your lungs.
4)-As the user you should not only wear protective gear on your face, your feet should also be properly covered. A lot of people (me included ) will crack out the pressure washer on a nice sunny day and forget that we are wearing flip flops or something similar. Really bad idea ,there is much better ways to cut your toe nails than this.
5)-Avoid leaving the hose with it on or running and venture off, you may think that it is safe, but with so much water attempting to shoot out of the nozzle, it is not difficult for the hose to come alive.
6)-Do not allow small children to operate your pressure washer, it may look like lots of fun for them, but in most cases they will not have the strength to control it. If you follow the above guidelines, your equipment will usually serve its purpose and you will be able to use it again and again, that is of course, if you take care of the equipment itself.
Here you can see an accident investigation where a worker died while operating a high-powered pressure washer.
Maintaining the equipment
If your pressure washer has a gas motor, you will also need to service it. Here are a few steps to take to keep your pressure running efficiently and avoid any problems in the future.
a)-Pay attention to the oil in the engine and make sure it is at the recommended level. Some of the cheaper engines can burn through engine oil surprisingly quickly.
b)-Don’t turn on the equipment until the water supply is in place. The number one way people damage their pumps is buying turning it on without fresh water running through the pump or else just leaving the engine running but not the pump.This can damage the seals inside the pump eventually breaking it completely.
c)-Repairing a hose with duck tape is not advisable, it will not withstand the pressure and you will end up replacing it anyway. This usually happens after damaging the hose by driving over and pulling it along the ground and kinking it too much. With so much pressure running though the hose it is likely that it will soon burst in a very nasty way.
d)-If you need to adjust the nozzle for the pressure washer, turn it off first. People lose fingers tips all the time when they think they can just twist it a little and everything will be ok.
This here is a story about a guy who hit his pinky with the spray and ended up needing a hospital visit and some plastic surgery to fix everything up – Pressure washer accident.
e)-If you need to fill up the engine, wait until the machine has had a few minutes to cool down.
f)-If you think something sounds dangerous, it probably is.
Some people believe that they can rent or purchase a pressure washer, take it home and just start using it, I mean it’s just water isn’t it. Fortunately, the ones who use that method are few and far between, or at least they change their method of thinking after getting themselves hurt. The owner’s manual should not only be read, it should also be carefully adhered to, if for no other reason but your own safety.With these steps in mind it’s never hard to stay up to date with pressure washer safety.
You can also read here for my other tips for using a Pressure Washer
Thanks for reading.
By Gavin O Hanlon