WJA Launching New Pressure Washing Code


The Water Jetting Association recently announced it is planning to release a new code of practice for pressure washing to keep operators safe during use. The Purple Code will reportedly support safe and productive waterjetting in the lowest of the NACE pressure bands, including medical advice, skills training and a professional, knowledge-based approach to pressure washing.

Waterjetting Safety

According to the United Kingdom-based association, many operatives do not receive structure training, do not use the right personal protective equipment (PPE) and are unaware of the hazards they face while pressure washing, which makes the need for the new code of practice “urgent.”

For example, WJA President John Jones writes in Plant & Works Engineering Magazine, an experienced pressure washing operative is using a steam pressure washer to clear a frozen drain, but lost control of the hose pulling it from the pipe. The waterjet then cut through his boot, filling it with 1100C water at 207 bar (3,000 psi), travelling at 440 miles per hour.

While this incident lasted less than three seconds, the operative reportedly suffered fourth degree burns and needed emergency surgery, with continued efforts needed to be made to rebuild his foot.

Because of accidents like these, WJA explains that safety is “at the heart” of the pressure washing code of practice. There are reportedly three main ways waterjetting systems can cause serious injury or death:

  • Being struck by an uncontrolled hose or jetting nozzle;
  • Suffering a laceration that causes a massive bleed; and
  • A fluid injection injury, caused by the waterjet puncturing the skin and entering underlying tissue.

The WJA reports that what is commonly not understood is that a fluid injection injury can be caused by a waterjet with pressure as low as 100 psi, or 7 bar, with shop-bought pressure washers reaching pressures of 2,500 psi, or 170 bar.

Additionally, fluid injection injuries don’t just involve water getting into the body. The waterjet can carry other particles and fluids with it, including dirt, bacteria, viruses, parasites, chemicals, oils and grease.

A jet can also reportedly be powerful enough to enter a forearm and strike the bone, then be diverted up to the shoulder. This could cause tissue damage, not including the potential pollutants its been struck with.

The WJA adds that the injection point can be so small that the injured person, their colleagues or medical personnel often do not realize the seriousness of the injury, resulting in an injured person not receiving the treatment they need and causing long-term problems such as secondary infections. Worst cases can result in the need for amputations or fatalities.

WJA Codes

The WJA follows international NACE standards for dividing waterjetting into four bands of increasing pressure, with pressure washing falling into the lowest band Low Pressure Cleaning. This includes water pressures up to 207 bar or 3,000 psi.

Existing WJA codes of practice cover high pressure and ultra-high pressure waterjetting, as well as drain and sewer cleaning. These are named the Blue Code and the Red Code, respectively.

The latest pressure washing code, the Purple Code, will reportedly support safe and productive waterjetting in the lowest of the NACE pressure bands. It also introduces a new operational standard and health and safety framework for companies that carry out pressure washing, and those who rely on its advantages.

These tasks include cleaning plant, machinery, and vehicles, mud from roads during highway repairs and construction, and many other jobs that would be “too arduous and costly” with other cleaning systems.

The new code reportedly addresses the safety concerns and risks of low pressure waterjetting and details the appropriate steps to mitigate them. This includes medical advice, skills training and professional approach.

The Purple Code covers new waterjetting medical guidelines, created following research into waterjetting injuries commissioned by the WJA and by NHS trauma doctors. Their study has since been published in European Journal of Trauma and Emergency Medicine, and confirmed the likelihood that many high-risk fluid injection injuries are not being properly diagnosed by GPs and emergency doctors.

The WJA reports that the guidelines are in the form of an algorithm, giving clear step-by-step information about how to respond to waterjetting injuries from the moment they occur through to post-emergency treatment therapies.

Next, the code covers training and competency, site and equipment set-up, and the different types of pressure washing pumps and equipment. Equipment operation, use of PPE and managing the pressure washing team, as well as detailed advice on risk assessment and a pre-start checklist, are included.

As the U.K.’s main provider of waterjetting training, the training section includes a City & Guilds pressure washing course delivered by WJA-approved training providers and instructors, designed to teach class-based and practical skills for safe and productive pressure washing.

Finally, the WJA explains it is intended to promote a professional and knowledge-based approach to pressure washing, welcome pressure washing contractors and organizations that carry out pressure washing as WJA members who take the lead in promoting safety in their industry.

“We’re a member of the WJA because we want to protect our operatives and everyone around us when we’re pressure washing,” commented TPC Brickwork Cleaning Owner and WJA Member Kris Jasinksi.

“Undertaking the WJA pressure washing training has made a big difference. I can see our safety has gone up a level. The advice the WJA gives is central to how we go about our work and to our business success. I have no doubt about that.”

Upgraded Training

Earlier this year, the WJA strengthened its mandatory refresher training by introducing a “significant element of practical tuition,” as well as upgrading the way delegates attend the City & Guilds accredited courses, with digital click pads to test learning throughout the course.

Additionally, the WJA introduced a new workbook for its Safety Awareness course that improves engagement and provides delegates with a reference guide.

“We’re always looking to improve our training. These changes reflect the vision of our committee has to improve outcomes for delegates, contractors and their customers,” said WJA Training and Safety Committee Chairman Darren Hamilton at the time.

“Ultimately, by upgrading our courses in this way, making them as up-to-date as possible, with the most relevant content and learning techniques, we will improve the quality and safety of waterjetting, which is our ultimate aim.”

While the WJA is a membership organization in the U.K., courses are also reportedly delivered around the world, notably in the Middle East. Operatives must complete a two-stage training process to obtain their WJA cards and certificates.

First, they must pass the class-based one-day WJA Safety Awareness course, followed by at least one of four practical modules: Surface Preparation, Tube and Pipe Cleaning, Drain and Sewer, and Hydrodemolition.

Previously, refresher training involved passing the Safety Awareness course every three years, but the new refresher course was created to focus on practical training, health and safety.

“The new refresher process allows us to check that operatives are using the correct waterjetting techniques and their skills are developing as we’d expect. We’ll also include regulation updates and technical changes introduced by the WJA,” Hamilton said.

“This is a more rounded approach designed to provide advantages for operatives, the companies they work for and their clients.”

The WJA reports that the new Safety Awareness book uses graphics and photographs to explain waterjetting concepts, with sections delegates complete themselves during the course. Operatives then keep the workbook for future reference, allowing them to check what they have learned and see the progress they have made in their technical understanding.

WJA-approved training instructors must now also complete a detailed form and be interviewed, as well as agree to be audited as they give at least one of their first courses. This audit occurs every three years.


Tagged categories: Asia Pacific; Associations; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Health & Safety; Health and safety; Latin America; North America; Personal protective equipment; Power washing; Program/Project Management; Safety; Surface preparation; Surface Preparation; Water Jetting Association; Waterjetting; Worker training; Workers; Z-Continents

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