At first glance, a pressure washer in action doesn’t look all that dangerous. After all, it’s just a blast of water, albeit more powerful than what you get from a regular garden hose–right?
A pressure washer–just like any other power tool in your garage–can become dangerous with improper use. Think about it: if a pressure washer can remove paint from a surface, just imagine what it can do to bare skin! You’re lucky if all you get is a bruise or a wound. But with a pressure washer’s powerful spray, it is very likely to have water injected into your skin, which can easily cause a deep-layer infection.
As a business, you are responsible for your employees’ safety and your own. With that in mind, knowing about pressure washer safety is crucial before you attempt to use a pressure washer without prior experience.
Keep on reading to learn more about the potential dangers of using a pressure washer and–more importantly, how to prevent serious injuries or damage from happening.
Are Pressure Washers Dangerous?
The short answer is yes, pressure washers can be dangerous. But the real question you should ask is, how dangerous are pressure washers?
A pressure washer can be just as dangerous as any other power tool, but the injuries that they can cause are definitely less severe than, say, a power saw. However, this doesn’t make them any less hazardous. At the very least, getting hit by the spray of a pressure washer can cause minor bruising or wounds on your skin. In worse cases, however, the pressurized water can penetrate deep into the skin and where it’s not supposed to be, which can lead to an infection. Let’s say you get sprayed in the eyes – you could be at risk of losing your vision permanently.
We say all this not to scare you, but rather to make you aware of the reality you face when you use a pressure washer.
These types of deep-tissue injuries can appear to be no big deal at first glance, which can increase the risk of not seeking medical help until it’s too late. In the absolute worst cases, a pressure washer injury where the water ended up deep inside the skin can lead to disability and even amputation.
So, to answer the question, “are pressure washers dangerous?” Yes, they can be–unless you employ proper pressure washer safety practices. This brings us to our next topic:
At What Pressure Are Pressure Washers Dangerous?
To be able to use a pressure washer safely, you must know the level of pressure at which pressure washers can become dangerous. More specifically, you need to know the pounds per square inch (psi) level at which the jet of water can cut through the outer layer of skin, which is 1,160 psi.
General cleaning applications call for 1,500 to 1,900 psi of pressure. Pressure washers that can emit pressure between 1,500 to 1,900 psi are considered “light-duty”. That said, an average pressure washer with a “light” spray can be strong enough to cause serious injury if you’re not careful.
Having said that, just imagine how much damage a higher psi level can cause (pressure washers can go up to 3,300+ psi!). In any case, it is important to practice proper pressure washer safety at any pressure.
Speaking of psi, check out this guide on how much water pressure psi you need for different types of applications!
Pressure Washer Safety Tips
Before you attempt to use a pressure washer, take note of these important safety tips to minimize the risk of accidents:
Learn How To Use a Pressure Washer Before Using One
It is imperative that you know the correct pressure washer techniques before even touching an actual machine. A pressure washer is a very powerful tool that can easily cause serious injuries and damage to property when placed in the wrong hands. Therefore, if you are inexperienced, it is crucial that you know how to use a pressure washer properly, at least in theory.
Pro tip: Watch video tutorials on how to use a pressure washer, ideally with the same type of washer that you have. There are plenty of sources online that you can use to learn before you give your pressure washer a go.
Once you learn what you need to do, you can start practicing with your pressure washer at a low psi. Set your pressure washer at the lowest psi it can go, then work your way up as you learn how to maneuver the nozzle properly. In any case, work in an abandoned area where there is less risk of injuring someone or damaging property.
When using a pressure washer, be sure to wear clothing that covers your skin i.e. pants and a long-sleeved shirt. Similarly, wear shoes that cover your entire foot; work boots with metatarsal guards are the best option, but regular sneakers will do as long as they are thick enough.
Eye and ear protection are also an absolute must. Wear safety goggles to protect your eyes from the mist and other particles, as well as to prevent accidents caused by something flying into your eye. If you are using a gas-powered pressure washer, which can be very loud, don’t forget to wear ear protection, too.
It is also recommended to wear waterproof safety gloves to protect your hands in case they accidentally get in the way of the pressurized spray. Waterproof gloves will also prevent your hands from getting wet, which minimizes the risk of you losing grip on the nozzle gun.
Another important tip: if you are using a hot water pressure washer, opt for insulated waterproof gloves!
Clear The Area Before Spraying
The powerful spray of a pressure washer can not only pose a risk to humans but inanimate objects as well. That said, always make sure to clear the area before you start working. Get rid of any obstacles that can get in the way of your spray; cover up windows; barricade the walkways (if you are working in a public area), and cover surrounding greenery with a tarp if necessary.
Never Aim The Wand at Anyone
How dangerous are pressure washers? Dangerous enough that you should treat your pressure washer wand like a firearm! Never aim it at anyone or anything that you don’t intend to clean. When the water is off, always point the wand downward and keep your fingers off the trigger.
Don’t Use a Gas Pressure Washer in an Enclosed Space
A gas-powered pressure washer emits fumes as it burns fuel for power. As a result, it is only ideal for outdoor use. If you try to operate a gas pressure washer inside an enclosed space, the carbon monoxide can remain trapped indoors, and you will be at risk for carbon monoxide poisoning. If a cleaning job needs to be done indoors, use an electric pressure washer instead.
Cover Electrical Outlets
Before cleaning an area, make it a point to check for and cover electrical outlets. You already know what can happen if you accidentally spray water into one.
Start With a Wide Nozzle
All pressure washers come with 3 to 4 nozzle tips. The widest angle nozzle tip is the 40-degree nozzle, which sprays a gentle fan of water on a surface. The smallest and strongest nozzle tip is the 0-degree nozzle, which sprays a jet of water the size of a quarter. Whenever you work on a new surface, always start with the 40-degree nozzle first, then work your way down until you find the nozzle tip that is strong enough to do the job.
Maintain Your Equipment Properly
This is a safety tip that a lot of business owners tend to forget. Proper maintenance is not only necessary to save money on your pressure washer–it’s also important for the safety of whoever uses it.
To illustrate, a poorly-maintained pressure washer has a higher risk of failing, which can lead to accidents. In the unfortunate event that it does cause an accident, you are legally obligated to pay for damages and medical expenses because maintaining the machine is your responsibility as a business owner. If it is your employee that sustains injuries, they are also entitled to workers’ compensation.
Final Thoughts On Pressure Washer Safety
With all the points that we’ve made here, you should be able to understand how important it is to employ all the necessary safety precautions when using a pressure washer. Don’t put your workers, yourself, and your business at risk–always make safety your #1 priority!
More than that, invest in a top-quality commercial pressure washer san antonio that has all the features you need to increase user safety. With a reliable unit from Hotsy Equipment Company, you won’t have to worry about your hot water pressure washer spraying scalding water everywhere for no reason–or perhaps your electric pressure washer suddenly malfunctioning. As long as you do your part in maintaining your machine, you can rest assured that a Hotsy pressure washer will remain fully functional and safe for years to come.