Pressure washing is harder than it looks.
Pressure washers are excellent tools for cleaning various surfaces, from outdoor furniture to a home’s exterior to concrete driveways. However, they can also be dangerous if not used properly. The high-pressure water stream generated by a pressure washer can cause serious injuries, such as lacerations, puncture wounds, and even amputations.
In this content, we will discuss some injuries that can result from using a pressure washer and then share tips for the safe operation of this powerful tool.
Pressure Washers Can Cause These Ten Injuries
Injuries can occur due to using a pressure washer, and it is important to be aware of the potential risks so that you can take steps to avoid them.
1 – Eye Injuries
One of the most common injuries associated with pressure washing is eye injuries. The high pressure of the water can cause debris, dirt, and other particles to fly up and hit you in the eye. This can cause serious injuries, such as corneal abrasions or even blindness. To avoid this, wearing proper eye protection when using a pressure washer is essential.
2 – Chemical Burns
Many pressure washers come with the option to use cleaning chemicals to aid in the cleaning process. These chemicals can be extremely harsh and cause chemical burns if they come into contact with your skin. It is essential always to wear gloves and long-sleeved clothing to protect your skin when using these chemicals.
3 – Electrical Shock (Electric Pressure Washers)
If you use an electric pressure washer, there is a risk of electrical shock if the machine is not used correctly. Water and electricity do not mix, and it is crucial to ensure that the machine is plugged into a ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlet. If the machine is not plugged into a GFCI outlet, the electrical current could flow through the water and cause an electrical shock.
4 – Slip and Fall Injuries
Pressure washing can make surfaces extremely slippery, increasing the risk of slip and fall injuries. This is especially true if you are pressure washing a surface that is already wet, such as a driveway or sidewalk. To avoid slip and fall injuries, wearing slip-resistant shoes and being aware of your surroundings is vital.
5 – Hearing Damage
Pressure washers are incredibly loud, and exposure to high noise levels can cause permanent hearing damage. Wearing earplugs or earmuffs when using a pressure washer is critical to protect your hearing.
6 – Back Injuries
Pressure washers can be heavy, and prolonged use can cause back injuries. This is especially true if you use a gas-powered pressure washer, as these machines can be incredibly heavy. It is essential to use proper lifting techniques and to take frequent breaks to avoid back injuries.
7 – Projectile Injuries
The high pressure of the water can cause objects to become projectiles, which can cause serious injury if they hit you. To avoid projectile injuries, it is essential to clear the area of any loose objects before you begin pressure washing.
8 – Carbon Monoxide (Gas-Powered Pressure Washers)
Poisoning. If you use a gas-powered pressure washer, there is a risk of carbon monoxide poisoning if the machine is enclosed. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that can cause serious health problems, including death. To avoid carbon monoxide poisoning, it is important only to use gas-powered pressure washers in well-ventilated areas.
9 – Burns
The high pressure of the water can cause burns if it comes into contact with your skin. This is especially true if you use hot water, which can cause more severe burns than cold water. Always wear protective clothing, such as long-sleeved shirts and pants, when using a pressure washer to avoid burns.
10 – Finger and Hand Injuries
The high pressure of the water can cause injuries to your fingers and hands if they come into contact with the spray. This can cause serious injury, including cuts and lacerations. Wear gloves and protective gear while operating this equipment.
Follow These Nine Safety Tips While Using Gas or Electric Pressure Washers
Never operate pressure washers until you understand how to operate the equipment safely.
1 – Wear Protective Gear
One of the most important safety tips is to wear protective gear. This includes safety goggles, gloves, and boots. Safety goggles will protect your eyes from flying debris, and gloves and boots will prevent injuries from accidental contact with the high-pressure water stream. Additionally, wearing long sleeves and pants can also provide additional protection.
2 – Read the User Manual Before Using Pressure Washers
Before using a pressure washer, it is essential to read the user manual thoroughly. The user manual will provide important information about the machine, including safety instructions and operating procedures. Familiarizing yourself with the machine will reduce the risk of accidents and ensure you use it correctly.
3 – Choose the Correct Nozzle
Pressure washers come with different nozzle tips that produce different spray patterns. Choosing the right nozzle is crucial as it determines the force and spray pattern of the water stream. The nozzle should be chosen based on the type of surface being cleaned and the pressure level required. For example, a 15-degree nozzle is suitable for removing tough stains, while a 40-degree nozzle is better for cleaning delicate surfaces such as cars or wooden decks.
4 – Keep a Safe Distance
It is essential to maintain a safe distance from the surface being cleaned. This distance will depend on the pressure and nozzle being used. Typically, a distance of at least 2-3 feet is recommended. However, if you are using a high-pressure nozzle, you may need to increase the distance to prevent damage to the surface or injury to yourself.
5 – Never Point Nozzles of Pressure Washers at People or Pets
The high-pressure water stream generated by a pressure washer can cause severe injuries if it comes into contact with a person or animal. Therefore, avoiding pointing the nozzle at people or animals is essential, even as a joke. Accidents can happen in a split second, and the consequences can be severe.
6 – Stay on the Ground Level
Do you need to reach a second story?
Pressure washers generate significant vibrations, which can cause the machine to move around. Therefore, keeping your machine on solid ground is critical to prevent any injury. Additionally, it is crucial to keep the power cord (if electric) and water hose away from the machine to prevent tripping hazards as you try to reach over your head. Avoid using a ladder, as the small built-in platforms are insufficient for safe pressure washing.
Investing in an extension wand to keep the equipment safely on the ground is a better option.
7 – Turn off Pressure Washers When Not Actively Using
When taking a break from pressure washing, turning off the machine and releasing the pressure in the hose is essential. This will prevent accidental spraying and reduce the risk of injury. Additionally, it is essential to disconnect the power cord and water hose before moving the machine to prevent accidents.
It is worth noting that this habit also helps extend the pump’s life, as idling can cause it to burn out.
8 – Do Not Spray Electrical Outlets
Water and electricity are a dangerous combination. So keeping the pressure washer away from electrical outlets or other electrical sources is essential. Additionally, it is essential to use a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) when using a pressure washer to prevent electrical shocks.
9 – Know Your Limits
Pressure washing can be physically demanding, and it is important to know your limits. If you are feeling tired or experiencing discomfort, taking a break and resting is essential. Continuing to push through your fatigue opens you to injury.
The Takeaway: Pressure Washers Can Cause Injuries When Used Improperly
Pressure washers are incredibly powerful tools that can clean many surfaces, from driveways to houses. While they are effective at cleaning, they can also be dangerous if not used properly. Injuries can occur due to using a pressure washer, and it is important to be aware of the potential risks so that you can take steps to avoid them.
Tayloe’s Lawn Care Services can help you avoid the inherent dangers of pressure washing. Give us a call today at 252.287.3376. We can schedule you for a free custom quote and complete this job.