Last updated on October 18th, 2022 | By: Grady Galvez
On a serious note, pressure washer safety isn’t a joke at all. There are extreme & disastrous injuries that could be caused by the power washer’s jet spray.
I am writing in bold- “OPERATE YOUR PRESSURE WASHER CAREFULLY”.
The worst part is, the pressure washer injuries are 100% avoidable. Do not be crazy!! You can’t treat a pressure washer like a super soaker and roam around in the house wearing just flip flops.
But, why so?
As you cannot underestimate the high-pressure injection injuries. So, here’s my detailed first-hand experience.
Couple of years back a colleague of mine was rushed to hospital.
And believe me he was really lucky.
His observance acted quickly as he was aware of the severity of the injury.
Just read what happened:
While using a high pressure grease gun, he lost his balance and in urgency of gaining balance he moved his hand into the harm’s way. And through the safety gloves he injected grease at a great pressure into the index finger of his hand (where it meets palm).
As he was fortunate enough to receive an immediate treatment at the emergency room nearby, was in a position to keep his index finger. Though, it lost some of its function.
It hardly matters if the fluid is any kind of grease, paint, or water, but it has the power to permanently damage or even amputate if injected at high-pressure.
You cannot expect the same high-pressure from every pressure washer but the PSI is capable enough to cause immense harm.
Pressure Washer Safety Tips & Tricks you need to KNOW
Let us discuss about them in detail:
YOU NEED TO EXTRA CAUTIOUS WHILE PRESSURE WASHING.
Just check out how much damage it can do to you:
INJURY 1: Pressure washer injury
The person using the pressure washer felt a bug on his leg and used the spray for getting rid of it. But obvious it lacerated his leg badly and this could have been more.
Thank God! He got skin damage only on the surface and was prescribed for antibiotics.
INJURY 2: High-Pressure Injection Injury on Hand
Serious High Injection Injury due to Pressure Washer
You will see how hazardous the power washers could be. Use them with respect!
The woman was trying to wash off her hand using the high-pressure power washer spray and accidentally the pressure turned on causing lacerations.
When at the hospital the surgeons had to make some more minor cuts to clean the hand dirt from the hands.
INJURY 3: Big Toe Injury from Pressure Washing
Bloody big toe injury from water spray
See the blood on the toe. The guy thought it’s a fair idea to pressure clean barefoot and that too with a power washer water spray. But not a good idea indeed.
Over here we can relate to humans with the rubber meat bags. And this water jet spray at around 1,160 PSI can cut through your outer skin layer.
Several residential pressure washers are capable enough to cause you serious injury. Hence, ensure to wear a proper and smart protective equipment.
- The kickback force can be massive enough to make you fall backward off your ladder or into the traffic.
It’s instilled in my memories….when I was serving at a rendering plant and was tasked for cleaning walls of the receiving bins.
I was to use a commercial electric powered pressure washer (4,000 PSI) which was rented by the Foreman. The kickback was surprising and enormous when I turned it on.
The floor was quite slippery and I got a push back a few inches away.
You can see this using a machine with 10,000 PSI. With this force he needs to lean forward at least 45 degrees.
- As you need to check the damage the various Pressure Washers (PSI) can do to varied surface materials.
Are you aware, such water jet cutters exist that can easily pierce through cold rolled stainless steel?
You het water jet cutters with a gigantic 90,000 PSI, but you do not need such huge pressure for damaging your home surfaces in and around.
Adequate force is generated by these power washers that can cause damage to your skin, wood, or concrete.
What is the PSI needed to punch a 0.1 inch deep (2-3 credit cards thickness), 1- inch squared (stamp size) hole in the varied materials?
|Material To Be Cut||Ultimate Strength (PSI)||Pound (Force) To Cut Through 1″ Square Hole That is 0.1″ Thick||PSI Required To Punch Hole|
- “Force (pounds) of Pressure Washer = Ultimate strength of material (PSI) x Cutting area perimeter (in inches) x material thickness (in inches)”
We can make an assumption here as the pressure washer you are holding (0-degree nozzle) close enough to the surface in a 1″ squared area.
Here, 1″ squared area means- A slightly bigger area than your thumbnail.
In the calculation a material thickness of 0.1″ (2-3 credit cards thick) is being used. A PSI of 2,321 will slightly damage the wood deck surface. As your deck panels have more than 0.1″ thickness.
For reaching to these figures the ultimate strength of the materials was multiplied by the 0.1″ material thickness + the perimeter of the area (made by it on the surface).
Here: 1″ squared has a 4″ perimeter.
The force in pounds is what you get. You know PSI is – pounds per square inch and we are shooting a 1″ squared area. So, this is the PSI pressure washer needed for punching the hole.
A SUMMARY of:
7 Pressure Washer Safety Tips
|# Safety Tip||Why it works?|
|1. Jot down all the task dangers with your solution for tackling risk.||1. If you know about the hazard, then only you can avoid it.|
|2. Wearing personal protective equipment is essential.||2. This will give protection for any injury to your feet, hands, and eyes from flying debris.|
|3. Read the complete pressure washer manual thoroughly.||3. Each equipment is different and you need to know it properly.|
|4. Gas pressure washers should never be used in an exposed space.||4. Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas exhausted by combustion engines. Breathing it could be fatal.|
|5. Be alert of any new hazards in the surroundings.||5. Playing kids, trip hazards, and moving vehicles are some risks that need to be avoided.|
|6. Use of red tip pinpoint nozzle should be avoided.||6. As read above also high-pressure injection injuries can’t be underestimate.|
|7. Working at height and ladders should be avoided.||7. Why risk yourself when you have extension wands? As kickback can push you off form the ladder.|
Let us know everything in detail:
Safety tip – 1
Just think through the task by taking out 5 minutes. Identify the hazards and think how to reduce the risks.
Take a 5 minutes’ walk near the area and assess this:
Do I feel ready for the job today? Were you awake late in the night and feeling drowsy? Did you exercise extra at the gym yesterday and feel a bit lazy?
Is the weather suitable today for pressure washing? Rains and heavy winds could turn out to be risky for power washing.
The area needs to be clear of any dangers. There could be bikes, pets, job toys, and trees from nowhere.
Electrical, open windows, or house vents…are you going to spray near them? Ensure to wrap the electrical things in plastic, cover vents, and close the windows too.
Are you aware that the pressure washer may make strange noises, leak or pops, or start to smoke? Be clear about all this and try to fix it.
You need to protect yourself first. Wear proper PERSONAL PROTECTIVE GEAR.
What all are the ways in which you can get hurt? Note down all the possibilities from tripping to falling down the stairs or a car running you over.
You can take help of your neighbor, friend, or your wife to help you out while you are using the pressure washer and warn you about any hazards prior.
Safety tip – 2
Wear proper PPE.
If you are at home doesn’t give you a license that you do not wear steel toe boots or other equipment. There are numerous injuries that can be prevented using proper personal protective equipment.
I recommend this:
- Safety goggles or glasses: ‘No brainer’, proper eye safety will eliminate the risk of any flying projectiles that could enter your eye. Dirt and debris while cleaning the surfaces will also stay away.
- Enclosed shoes: This would be probably the best thing if you wear proper steel toe gum boots or work boots. Worst here could be enclosed running boots.
- Gloves: Hands are at the greatest risk of injection injuries and wearing safety gloves is mandatory.
- Ear protection: If you are planning to use a gas powered pressure washer for extended period then ear protection becomes essential. For electric pressure washers this does not come with a compulsion.
- Pants: Even if it is hot outside, keep your legs covered as there will be debris flying everywhere while you clean.
Safety Tip – 3
You need to read the user manual thoroughly prior to operating the pressure washer.
The pressure washer models could be slightly different. Not only there are gas & electric types but the direct drive, belt drive, cold water, and hot water etc. also.
The user manual will help you know everything perfectly and you will have clarity about troubleshooting tips along with safety tips needed for the equipment.
Should give a read….you will finish up reading while just having a cup of coffee.
Safety Tip – 4
Gas pressure washer should not be used in an enclosed space.
Two major reasons to support this:
Toxic exhaust fumes:
Gas power washers emit poisonous gases such as carbon monoxide that can cause numerous problems. You may get nausea, headache, or get dizzy if you breathe it in excess.
For avoiding this make use of the pressure washers in well-ventilated areas.
If you are using a petrol pressure washer then it will be using a similar engine like that of a lawn mower. This will make noise in an enclosed space as the sound will get amplified. You are required to wear ear protection too in such situations.
Safety Tip – 5
Be alert about your surroundings.
You should be absolutely aware of passing cars, electrical wires, slippery surfaces, pets, children, and power lines etc.
You should do all this as a pre-job analysis.
Safety Tip – 6
You should use the widest angle spray tip in the beginning.
Start washing 2 ft. from a test surface and do all the adjustments for nozzle and distance ar required.
- Red tip: 0-degree pinpoint jet.
- Yellow tip: 15-degree medium jet spray.
- Green tip: 25-degree general cleaning and lifting.
- White tip: 40-degree gentle fan spray.
- Black tip: Soaping tip wider orifice and 65-degree mist spray.
Red and yellow tip will be rarely needed by you. The maximum you will use is the green tip.
If you do not want to damage the surface then you should start with the white tip attachment as this will clean well for you. You can move slightly closer to the surface but never get closer than 6 inches.
The process can be repeated using a green tip.
Safety Tip – 7
Working at height and ladders should be avoided.
Use an extension wand instead as using ladders could turn out to be dangerous. Why create any sort of hazard? It could be fatal to fall form 3-feet.
If you use these seven safety tips properly then you will be at zero risk. Be wise not to land-up in some serious injury on a week end while power washing, rather enjoy the pressure cleaning process.
As staying safe is a priority.