While pressure washing is a practical and highly effective washing method for a number of applications; as is the case with many mechanised instruments, high-pressure equipment comes with its fair share of risk.
Some machines are designed to work at 1000bar of pressure. That equates to 14,500 pounds per square inch. According to Hawk Pumps, manufacturers and distributors of high-pressure pumps and accessories, including high-pressure washing machines, this amount of pressure could sever a limb. It is therefore essential to bear safety risks in mind, as water is dangerous if misused at high pressure.
The company shares a few tips to ensure safety is a priority:
- Always be mindful of other people’s safety. Never point a high-pressure gun at anyone and don’t assume that it is safe when switched off. This is when it is at its most dangerous. The hose remains at maximum pressure and when the trigger is engaged, it can release with brute force.
- Wear closed shoes when operating a high-pressure cleaning machine, as water at high pressure can penetrate the soft skin at the top of the foot.
- All machines must be taken seriously and handled with care and concentration.
- Operators must protect the face with safety goggles or a clear plastic face shield. If the pressure causes the lance to whip around, the operator could lose an eye. High-pressure hoses can cause surfaces to come loose and thus flying debris and/or the hose may bounce back and cause injury.
- Hot water machines can reach up to 90°C, which almost boiling point. Always wear gloves when working with hot water machines.
- Make sure to select the correct nozzle for pressure requirements. The incorrect nozzle can cause too much backpressure. If you adjust the unloader instead of the nozzle, the excessive pressure will damage the pump or motor when it is switched off.
- Don’t be fooled by tiny leaks. Operators must never try to stop leaks with the hand, as the tiny jet stream is powerful. In extreme instances, a stream of water can cause a hand to inflate.
- Always ensure easy access to the off switch in case of emergencies. It is advisable to have a second operator on standby when operating extreme pressure.
- When tube cleaning, operators should mark the hose clearly about one or two metres from the nozzle. This will warn the operator that the hose is about to come out of the tube as it is withdrawn. Extreme caution must be exercised as the hose can whip around and injure the operator. These injuries can be fatal.
- Always ensure that a well-stocked, clearly labelled first aid kit is always easily accessible.