202430 Pressure washer injury

25 May 2024 MARS

Deck crew were performing maintenance on a tanker underway, de-rusting with a high pressure water-blast machine and then painting. A minimum of two persons were required for the task; one to handle the spray gun and the other to hold and manage the water hoses. The crew were working in pairs, swapping roles every 30 minutes.

After a full morning of this work, the crew returned to the job after lunch. At one point, the water jet was inadvertently turned towards the foot of the crew member handling the nozzle. The water jet penetrated his safety shoe just above the steel protection (photo, right) causing an injury to the foot. The victim was assisted to the ship’s hospital where first aid was administered.

Released from his duties for precautionary reasons, the victim visited a hospital at the first opportunity. 

No fracture was found by X-ray and no infection or skin necrosis was observed. He returned to full duties shortly after.

Lessons learned

  • A pressure washer is like a loaded gun – see also earlier MARS reports (201921 and 202337), which also highlight injuries due to this equipment. The water forces generated can cause severe injury when in contact with a person’s body.
  • If a pressure washer is on, always hold the lance with both hands to have full control. Never point the lance at yourself or others.
  • Proper PPE will help reduce the severity of an injury but is not infallible.