Code Red for water jetting safety
Steve Williams, Training and Safety Chairman at the Water Jetting Association, explains how updating standards and training innovation are essential to water jetting safety.
Using water jets to clean surfaces, drains and pipes, cut steel and remove concrete, has become an essential part of building, site and structure maintenance in many commercial and industrial sectors.
Absolutely central to the process is safety. Working with water under pressure creates unique risks. At just 7 bar (100 psi), water can penetrate skin. And central to safety is training.
It is the reason why the WJA, the member organisation for the water jetting industry, is continuously revising and updating its training programme and the standards upon which it is based.
Red Code revision
An example is the publication, in January 2023, of a completely revised code of practice for the use of water jetting in drains and sewers.
Because of its red cover, it is known as the Red Code. The WJA also has a Blue Code for the use of high and ultra-high pressure water jetting equipment. A new Purple Code, for pressure washing, will be published soon.
The Red Code is recognised by the HSE and other regulatory bodies as setting the standard for drain and sewer cleaning. In fact, the HSE has worked closely with the WJA on updating key details in the code.
Guidance on key activities has been strengthened – with 156 instances where the word ‘should’ for an action has been changed to ‘shall’, indicating it must be carried out.
The Red Code’s formal title has been extended to include surface preparation up to 275 bar. This acknowledges the addition of new advice related to washdown activities, often carried out by drainage and wastewater operatives.
WJA training specified
There is new guidance for hire companies and their clients to clarify their roles and responsibilities for ensuring equipment is handed over in a safe condition and advice on the competency of users is understood.
A similar review is underway for our Blue Code. This process is vital because users of water jetting services want to be sure contractors are.
using the safest possible practices. It is a reason why they often specify contractors must work to the WJA codes and receive WJA training.
This is because the standards defined by the codes of practice directly underpin our City & Guilds accredited training courses. The technical information in the code is taught by WJA approved instructors.
Water jetting operatives have to pass a class-based WJA Safety Awareness course and then at least one of four Practical Modules – Surface Preparation, Tube and Pipe, Drain and Sewer, and Hydrodemolition – to receive their WJA operational water jetting card.
New training tech
There is also a stand alone WJA pressure washing course. These courses are being constantly updated in line with the development of our codes of practice. No surprise then, that the drain and sewer course was the most recent to be reviewed.
The WJA is also introducing new technologies to improve training and broaden its reach.
For example, we are introducing CLiKAPAD digital response pads to carry out delegate assessment, making the process of setting course pass standards more thorough and engaging.
The WJA’s Ruling Council has approved increasing the size of individual courses to 12 delegates, as long as instructors have risk assessed them.
We are also, for the first time, allowing non-UK training providers and instructors to deliver courses, in response to the growing demand for WJA training around the world, most notably in the Middle East. We have already received applications from Denmark, South Africa and Qatar, among other countries.
Water jetting for cleaning is cost-effective and sustainable. It is also safe, when risks are understood and mitigated. That is why the WJA is determined to ensure its codes of practice and training remain fit for purpose.
Find out more
Talk to the WJA about your water jetting training needs. We are here to help you deliver water jetting services, or carry out water jetting tasks, safely and productively. Call +44 (0)208 320 1090. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.