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Pressure washing training ‘vital’ to workplace safety

Author:
Mr David Kennedy
Date:
04/12/2019 - 14:38

Providing pressure washing training is vital to protect employees and embed best practice safety across all company operations, says Costain operations and transport manager Paul Nicholson.

Integrated, leading-edge, smart infrastructure solutions specialist Costain is a member of the Water Jetting Association (WJA) and Paul Nicholson is a WJA-approved water jetting instructor who carries out much of the training required in the company.

He said: “Our operations make use of a wide range of water jetting techniques, from pressure washing to high pressure and ultra-high pressure water jetting.

“In our view, pressure washing training is equally as important as training for higher pressures, not least because pressure washing is used so extensively across a wide range of different operations.

“Pressure washing systems need to be used with care to prevent injury. However, because they are now so regularly used in the home, there is a risk that operatives could become complacent in their use at work.”

Medical research commissioned by the WJA has established that the two main causes of injury when using water jetting systems is hydraulic fluid injection into the body and being struck by an uncontrolled jetting hose. Both can occur during pressure washing.

Hydraulic fluid injection can occur at pressures as low as 40 bar, or 580 pounds per square inch (psi), far lower than the pressure achieved by many over-the-counter pressure washing machines. Ultra-high-pressure water jetting can exceed 2,500 bar, or 36,259 psi.

Paul manages a programme of pressure washing and high-pressure water jetting training across Costain.

Pressure washing is widely used within the company across the UK to clean vehicles and other machinery, for industrial surface cleaning and for removing mud from highways during construction projects.

“Setting high standards through training is a key objective. We need a clear approach to manage how pressure washing is used, and WJA training is central to this,” Paul explained.

Dozens of Costain operatives attend WJA pressure washing training courses every year at multiple sites across the UK.

The six-hour course, accredited by City & Guilds, is designed to train delegates in the safe use of water jetting systems working at pressures up to 3000 psi (207 bar), not exceeding a flow rate of five gallons per minute.

Key course topics include how pressure washing technology works, protective personal equipment, risk assessment, safe handling of equipment, fault checking and emergency first aid.

Paul Nicholson said: “Some people assume they know how to use pressure washers because they have one in their garage at home.

“However, when I explain how fluid injection injuries can be caused, how serious they are and showing what they look like, people quickly sit up and take notice. A trainee on one of our courses remarked how he would definitely not pressure wash his drive in flip flops ever again as a result.”

As a principal contractor, Costain also ensures its sub-contractors have the appropriate skills, training and safety culture to work on its projects.

Having access to the WJA database to check the training records of contractors and their operatives allows the company to do that. The software is invaluable,” said Paul. “We can establish that training has been carried out and is up to date which, in turn, helps us keep our people safe.”

All WJA pressure washing training courses are delivered by WJA-registered training providers and WJA-approved instructors. For more information about training and how to become a member of the WJA, call 020 8320 1090.