It is easy to underestimate the power of a pressure washer and subsequently cause any number of power washing injuries. A serious or even fatal injury can result if pressure washers are used improperly. Some machines are capable of reaching pressures as high as 4,000 PSI, creating an even greater chance for serious injury.
Injuries from a pressure washer may include falls, blindness, and high-pressure injection (HPI). High-pressure water is dangerous enough, but using chemicals during the cleaning process can make a bad situation even worse. Wounds sustained while power washing may appear superficial, but should always be examined and treated by a qualified healthcare professional.
Hard slips or falls can lead to hospitalization or even death. Wet surfaces can be slippery and ice can form quickly in colder climates. Using a power washer on a ladder or rooftop is dangerous due to the backward force of a pressure washing gun, which can easily throw a person off balance. Use appropriate safety harnesses when operating a power washer from a ladder, lift, or crane.
Blindness and other eye injuries can occur not only from getting sprayed directly in the eye, but from other foreign objects flying through the air as well. High pressure water can send rocks, broken glass and other harmful items flying through the air at harmful speeds. Chemicals may also splash up from the surface. Always wear shock/splash resistant safety glasses when operating a pressure washer. In the event of a chemical-related eye injury, seek medical assistance immediately and try to take the product label or Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) explaining the chemical’s properties for review by the doctor.
High-pressure injection (HPI) occurs when water and other debris penetrates the surface of the skin and causes deep tissue damage. Infections are likely to occur with HPI and may lead to permanent damage or even amputation of the affected body parts. To help avoid the risk of HPI, use fan or cone type nozzles to disburse the pressure over a wider area. Solid stream nozzles can do more harm and should be avoided whenever possible. Wear protective clothing when pressure cleaning and never point the power washer at yourself or another person.
Electric pressure washers have the risk of electric shock. Use of gas-powered pressure washers can lead to asphyxiation by carbon monoxide inhalation when used without proper ventilation. Gas units are extremely loud – hearing protection should be worn at all times. Misuse of hot-water pressure washers may result in serious burns that could likely require medical attention.
When operating any pressure washer be sure to read and understand its operation manual, paying special attention to all safety precautions. Give the machine the respect it deserves and use necessary safety measures for each individual project.
If you have any doubts about operating a machine, consider hiring a mobile pressure washing company to complete your project. A quick Internet search for “pressure washing in (your city)” will likely result in dozens of professional companies that would be happy to give you a free estimate.
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