Keeping equipment and facilities clean helps with maintenance, performance, and aesthetics. Despite the benefits, pressure washers can cause serious injury if not operated correctly. Before using a pressure washing, learn how to properly operate one.

Before Operating

  • Read the manufacturer’s operating manual prior to use.
  • Know how to use and maintain the power washer.
  • Protect yourself from carbon monoxide poisoning by only starting and running a gas-powered unit outside, ensuring proper ventilation during operation. Refuel in a well-ventilated area with the engine stopped. Do not smoke or allow flames or sparks in the area where the engine is refueled or where gasoline is stored.
  • Wear appropriate personal protective equipment.
    • Safety glasses or goggles must always be worn.
    • A face shield is also required when water is pressurized above 2,000 PSI.
    • Enclosed footwear with good traction (preferably waterproof).
    • Hearing protection (gas-powered units).
    • Protective clothing (long pants, waterproof top and bottom)
    • Gloves with good dexterity.

Power Washing Safety Tips

  • Maintain a minimum 6-ft. distance when spraying water around power lines, electrical masts or outlets.
  • Engage the safety lock on the trigger when you are not washing and turn off when changing nozzle tips.
  • Before uncoupling hoses, stop the machine, turn the water off and squeeze the spray wand trigger to release all water pressure in the system.
  • Remain aware of your surroundings for any changes that may turn hazardous.
  • Do not hold the spray tip closer than 12-inches to a surface.
  • Do not point the pressure washer at people, animals or put any body part in front of the nozzle. The pressurized water stream could penetrate your skin and cause serious injury.
  • Do not use pressure washers while working from ladders or elevated surfaces.
  • Never use a pressure washer to spray off yourself or your boots.
  • Never use zero tips. These tips are usually painted red. Choose a tip with a wider angle of spray to reduce the chance of a severe injury if the stream makes contact with the body.

Consider all the risks of pressure washing and what steps you need to take to protect yourself and the others around you. While the main hazard is the pressure of the water, there are many secondary hazards that could also lead to injury.

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