The high amount of pressure put out by pressure washers can quickly cut through your flesh, resulting in serious injuries. Additionally, pressure washers can lead to high-pressure water ingestion, which is also extremely dangerous. In some cases, these types of injuries will result in severe nerve damage or result in amputation.
In fact, there was someone who began to use a high-pressure grease gun. In an effort to secure his balance, he accidentally moved his gloved hand into the path of the stream. The grease was then injected through his safety gloves and into the index finger. While this man received treatment right away, he did not lose his finger; however, he did lose some function. Keep in mind; it doesn’t matter what type of material is being used, if it is sprayed into you at high pressure, the damage can be severe.
Due to the severe risk of injury presented by pressure washers, it is important that you wear the proper safety gear at all times, regardless of if you are using a residential, commercial, gas or electric unit. While there are some particular safety tips for certain types of pressure washers, (i.e. gas vs. electric pressure washers), here you can find some basic and some more specific tips that will help ensure you remain safe while using the equipment.
Read Your Manual Carefully
Getting to know how to properly use your pressure washer is the first thing you need to do before you try to turn it on. There are several differences in pressure washers, including what features a unit has, the water temperature and the amount of pressure exerted.
Before you try to do anything (besides look at your pressure washer) you need to read the manual from cover to cover. In most cases, this won’t be more than a few pages. However, the information contained in these manuals is essential to ensure you can safely use your unit.
While the owner’s manual is going to be full of safety tips, you will also find instructions regarding how to use the model and any specific safety features that it offers. There are also going to be instructions related to how you can properly set up, as well as disassemble the pressure washer that may also be critical to your safety while using the device.
Get to Know all the Potential Hazards
To make sure you can avoid any possible dangers, you need to know what they are. Make sure you consider all of the potential hazards before you use your pressure washer for the first time. This will include any obstacle that you may trip on, uneven or slippery surfaces, children and pets and even traffic that is passing by where you are working.
If, for any reason, you are going to be standing in the street while you are using your pressure washer, Make sure that you have someone spotting and watching for any oncoming traffic. This will help ensure you don’t get hit. If you try to watch for traffic by yourself, this will distract you from being able to safely operate your pressure washer.
If there are other people who are outside with you, you need to designate someone responsible to watch for anyone that may be coming close to you while you are working. This will help you avoid accidentally directly your pressure washer toward them. Once you have listed all the potential hazards, you need to have a plan of action regarding how to avoid them.
Wear the Necessary Safety Gear
There are quite a few videos and images online of individuals using pressure washers while wearing shorts or sandals or not wearing safety goggles or gloves. The majority of injuries that occur because of pressure washer could be avoided if the person had worn the proper gear.
- Boots: You need to always wear closed-toe shoes or some type of work boot when you are using a pressure washer. It is recommended that you wear steel-toe boots, since the high-pressure streams may tear through traditional rubber boots.
- Gloves: The most commonly injured body part when using a pressure washer is the hands. This is why it is so important to use gloves while operating these devices. They will not only protect your hands but will also help to improve your grip and avoid other types of unnecessary
- Long Pants: Since you are going to be using water that is highly pressurized to blast away debris and dirt from various surfaces, you need to make sure that your legs are fully protected from any flying debris that may break the skin. Also, if you are cleaning the pavement or sidewalks, you should protect your legs from the downward jet of water that is close to them.
- Safety Glasses: While it is crucial that you provide protection for your legs from any flying debris, it is also just as important to ensure your eyes are safe from these hazards. Make sure you wear safety glasses to protect your eyes from any dirt or other small debris that are being propelled by the water being used.
- Ear Protection: If you plan on using a gas powered pressure washer, it is a good idea to wear something that will protect your hearing. The motor on these units isn’t enclosed. This means that it is going to generate quite a bit of sound. The high decibels that are produced by the pump and motor can result in damage to your hearing if you aren’t careful. In most cases, electric pressure washers are going to be quieter and will not require that you wear hearing protection.
Remember: Pressure Washers Aren’t Toys
While this should be obvious, you need to keep in mind that pressure washers aren’t toys. You should never point the spray at someone else or an animal. The water is being pushed out by quite a bit of pressure and can cause server injuries. Also, if you are using the device while on a ladder, use extreme caution. If you don’t pay attention the initial blast from the unit can cause you to be propelled backward off the ladder and result in a serious injury. This is true for both residential and commercial pressure washers.
You should never allow a child to use a pressure washer and make sure everyone knows to “stay back” while you are operating this equipment. In some cases, it will be difficult for you to hear someone who may be approaching you from behind. This sets up the perfect scenario for a serious injury.
When Not in Use, Make Sure to Use the Safety Latch
If you aren’t actively spraying, you need to use the safety latch that is on your gun to ensure unintentional engagement of the pressure washer does not occur. There are several pressure washer guns, not all, that have a safety latch installed on the handle. This lever is able to be flipped horizontally to hold the trigger in place and ensure it isn’t turned on accidentally.
Make sure you never put your gun down without engaging this latch. Also, don’t ever leave your equipment unattended while it is running. If you have to move away from the work area for over a minute, then you should turn the unit off.
Don’t Use a Gas Pressure Washer in an Enclosed Area
If you are using a gas pressure washer, it is going to emit carbon monoxide, which is an odorless, colorless gas that can be deadly when it is concentrated. Don’t ever use gas pressure washers in an enclosed area, even if the windows are open. This can still result in deadly levels of carbon monoxide accumulation.
Get Training to Use Commercial Pressure Washers
Even though commercial and residential pressure washers operate similarly, commercial units are much larger and more powerful. As a result, it is wise to undergo training on how to use the unit safely before you try to operate it. This will help you prevent injuries to yourself as well as damage to whatever you are working on.
Damage Caused by Power Washers
While you have already learned that pressure washers can injure you severely if they aren’t used correctly, they can also cause damage to your home or business, or any other structure you are cleaning.
For example, some of the property damage that pressure washers can cause include:
- Allow water into your home, business or other structure, which can result in mold.
- Get water into the walls if too much pressure is used.
- The siding can be knocked loose or damaged.
- Windows may be damaged or broken.
- Pain may be removed from surfaces.
The Bottom Line
If you have plans to use any type of pressure washer, it is imperative that you know how to do this safely. The fact is, if used improperly, pressure washers can result in quite a bit of damage and personal injury. However, when you take the time to use the safety tips found here, you can easily keep everyone and everything around you safe, uninjured and damage free.