Toolbox Talk: Pressure Washers

By Published On: June 23, 2022

Pressure Washing

Pressure Washers are one of the more commonly rented items on CLINK. They are great for prepping a house for exterior paint, cleaning stains from concrete, blasting mud from your equipment and 4 wheelers, or just prepping the deck or patio for a weekend party. But all of those tasks come with some sort of risk. 

What are the direct Hazards

  • Contact with the high pressure stream can cause damage to the skin. A wound from a water stream is very difficult to close and heal as it will not be a “clean cut”. Use extreme caution with the end of the sprayer, wear rubber boots and gloves to minimize direct contact.
  • Electric Shock – some pressure washers are electric, if the cord is damaged or improperly grounded the user can be shocked. Or, when spraying around electric wires, outlets, meter boxes, etc. the user can be shocked from exposed live wires.
  • Carbon Monoxide Poisoning – the exhaust from gas powered pressure washers needs to be vented properly. Never use a gas powered machine indoors. When operating in a confined space such as an open pit or a space with little air flow, try to set the machine as far away from you as possible or use a fan to assist ventilation.

Indirect Hazards

  • Slipping – wear rubber soled shoes that provide traction (and insulation from shock)
  • Tripping – minimize the amount of hose needed, especially on tricky surfaces like roofs or around pools and edges 
  • Flying Objects – loose debris will be flying around the area, wear glasses or goggles to keep things out of your eyes. Consider a mask if you are removing old paint or chemicals.
  • Insects and Pests – many times pressure washing will reveal some unwanted insects, keep bee and insect spray handy.
  • Noise – Gas units can be very loud, wear ear protection to minimize hearing loss

If you are injured by a Pressure Washer

Most cuts and scrapes that happen during pressure washing will need to be thoroughly cleaned. There is usually a lot of debris flying around and dirty objects that caused the cut. For minor cuts, self first-aid may be all that is required. Cleaned wounds can be dried and dressed, uncleaned wounds should be left open until they can be cleaned with running water or clean bottled water.

 For more serious injury, a medical professional may suggest a Tetanus vaccination and x-ray to be sure all debris is cleared. 

A person that has sustained a high pressure injury should call 911 and get medical attention as soon as possible. Devices that produce a stream of water over 100 psi can cause tremendous damage to the human body.


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