Pressure Washer Injury and Our Safety Tips
Pressure washers are great for cleaning a wide range of surfaces, but often incorrect use of pressure washers can lead to injuries. Pressure washer injuries on the skin should not be taken lightly as these can lead to bacterial infections. As the water flows under immense pressure from the pressure washer, it can lacerate skin or cause micro-tears that need immediate medical attention.
Many times, users suffer from pressure washer injury on the leg or their hands if their hand gets in the way of the water stream from the pressure washer. In this article, we are going to take a look at some of the common types of pressure washer injuries. We will also discuss safety tips and what to do in case of pressure washer injury.
Common Types of Pressure Washer Injuries
The pressure from an electric pressure washer can range anywhere from 1300-1600 PSI while a gas-powered pressure washer sprays at 2000-4000 PSI. Compared to this, a garden hose sprays water at only 40 PSI. Most users don’t take into account the kind of power a pressure washer operates at which often results in injuries. Let’s take a look at some common types of pressure washer injuries.
1) Hand Injuries – If the stream of the pressure washer passes anywhere near your hand, it can cause lacerations or cuts. A small cut might look harmless, but it should be treated immediately as the water can cause infections under the skin. Many people receive injury on their fingers if they move their hand in front of the stream from the pressure washer.
2) Foot Injuries – This type of injury is also common when a person triggers the pressure washer while it is pointed at the ground. The pressure of the water is so high that it can pierce through shoes and damage skin.
3) High-Pressure Injection – HPI or High-Pressure Injection injuries are those when debris or chemicals enter a person’s skin with the water. Such wounds can get infected quickly, and a person should be given immediate medical attention. Most of the time, the cause of such injuries is concentrated spray of water and careless handling of the pressure washer.
4) Slipping and Falling – The water from the pressure washer exerts a lot of pressure against every surface, and it can lead to falls if you are not careful. Many people fall when they use a pressure washer on a ladder, and the backward force from the pressure washer destabilizes the ladder. Slipping because of improper footwear is also another cause of injuries.
5) Eye Injuries – Eye injuries are also common among people working with pressure washers. Accidental sprays into the eyes or splash-back from spraying something too close to the face can lead to blindness and other eye injuries. Many times, the force of the water can send loose debris, nails, glass shards, or chemicals into the eyes.
6) Electric Shock – If the electrical fittings of a location are not switched off or left uncovered, it can lead to electric shock. Electric pressure washers should be used with proper grounding and high-quality wires to prevent shocks of any kind.
7) Hearing Loss – Gas-powered pressure washers are loud, and it can lead to hearing loss if you work in their vicinity for an extended period.
8) Burns – Using hot water while pressure washing can lead to burns if the water splashes back from a surface. If there are chemicals in the vicinity of the pressure washer, they need to be stored properly as the stream from the pressure washer can puncture containers and lead to chemical leakage.
Safety Tips to Prevent Pressure Washer Injuries
While there is no sure shot way to avoid injuries and accidents at the workplace, you can take appropriate precautions to minimize the risk of injuries while using a pressure washer. Here are some safety tips you can follow.
1) Protective Gear – Most injuries happen because a person is not wearing suitable gear while using the pressure washer. Thick pants, close-toed shoes, safety helmet, safety glasses, hearing protection, and thick gloves are essential while using a pressure washer.
2) Inspect the Area – Before starting to pressure wash an area, inspect the area in detail to check anything that can be a safety hazard. If there are any debris, mechanical implements, chemicals, open wires, or hazardous substances in the area, remove those before starting to pressure wash the area.
3) Be Mindful – If you don’t intend to wash a surface, do not point the pressure washer at it. Maintain distance from any surface where you are pressure washing. Also, never point the pressure washer at yourself or any other person.
4) Avoid Ladders – Ladders or unstable surfaces can be a significant factor that contributes to falls and slippage. The force from the pressure washer is enough to destabilize ladders or push you off any surface. It is a better idea to use an extension attachment for pressure washing areas you cannot reach.
5) Avoid Zero Degree Nozzles – A zero-degree nozzle or the red colored nozzle concentrates the flow of water to a small point that can be piercing and hazardous to open skin. This nozzle attachment is not recommended by Consumer Report because of its dangerous nature. It is a better idea to use a wide spray for all kinds of cleaning.
6) Avoid Enclosed Spaces for Gas Powered Pressure Washers – If you are pressure washing an enclosed space, consider using an electric pressure washer. Gas-powered pressure washers emit gases that can lead to nausea and headaches. Always use a gas-powered pressure washer in an open space.
7) Do Not Test the Water Pressure – Many people get injured because they try to test the pressure of the water by putting their finger or hand in front of the stream from the pressure washer. Doing this will injure your hand as pressure washers operate at above 1000 PSI, and even 100 PSI is enough to break the skin and cause injury.
What to Do in Case of Pressure Washer Injury?
Pressure washer injuries should not be taken lightly. While it might look like a scratch or a microscopic cut on the surface, without proper medical attention, even a small injury can lead to more significant problems if not treated in time.
Examine the injury first of all and check if there is any blood flow or loss of muscle function. Remove any foreign objects that are near the site of the wound. Use clean water to remove blood or debris around the wound. Bandage the wound with a clean bandage or clean cloth.
The most crucial step is to get quick medical attention after the initial dressing. A medical professional can better judge the extent of the injury and provide the required medical care.
Often, if there are no external marks present, the injuries might be internal, and you should still consult a medical professional to get treatment for pressure washer injuries.
Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about pressure washer injuries.
Ans. Yes, a pressure washer can cause injuries to hands, legs, eyes, and more. Whenever you use a pressure washer, make sure you are wearing ideal protective clothing.
Ans. A high-pressure injection injury or HPI injury happens when the stream of water from a pressure washer breaks the skin, and foreign contaminants such as dirt, grease, debris, or chemicals enter the skin. Seek immediate medical attention if you get an HPI injury.
Ans. Yes, a pressure washer can break the skin. Any pressure washing device above 100 PSI can injure you, and pressure washers operate at a minimum 1000 PSI. Most pressure washers are powerful enough to etch concrete, and they can tear through the skin and damage the tissue and muscles underneath.
Ans. Pressure washers can be dangerous if not used properly. Injuries from the incorrect use of a pressure washer can cause loss of limbs and even be life-threatening. Always wear protective gear while using a pressure washer and make sure you are using the device with attention to your surroundings.
Ans. If you can see a visible wound, clean it with clean water and soap. Pat it dry, and wrap it with a clean cloth. Get medical attention immediately. Even if you don’t have any visible entry wound, you should seek help from a medical professional as the water stream from a pressure washer can cause muscle and tissue damage.
It suffices to say that pressure washers can and will cause injuries if you handle these without protective gear or proper understanding of the machines. Keep in mind that these are powerful machines that require handling with utmost care.
Also, if you are pressure washing an area, do a thorough inspection of the place to remove any hazardous materials from there. In case you or anyone you know is injured, get medical attention, and do not ignore the injury under any circumstances.
We hope this article helped give you an insight into pressure washer injuries and safety measures. For any questions or queries, feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment section.