Motor-shop worker suffers severe burn to foot using pressure washer

A worker in Alberta using a high-pressure washer in a motor shop severely burned their foot, requiring skin graft treatments, according to a Safety Alert released by Enform.

The incident description says a worker using a high-pressure washer in a motor shop was washing parts that were resting on the floor. The back and forth of the washer wand motion caused the parts being washed to move and roll around. The worker braced a part with their left foot and continued spraying in a back and forth motion, but the worker sprayed their boot with the water stream causing the boot to tear and exposing the
skin to the stream.

The hot water from the washer caused a burn and laceration to the worker's foot. Damaged skin required a skin graft for treatment.
The spray from the pressure washer — set at 1900 PSI — came in contact with the employees boot. The water temperature was set at 63ºC.

As for recommended corrective actions, the pressure of the washer has been reduced to 1200 PSI and the water spray temperature has been reduced to 32ºC.

Additional corrective actions include:

    * All workers who use the pressure washer, will be required to be upgraded to metatarsal protected work boots
    * Destructive testing on the old and new boots with the old and new set pressures/ temperatures was done to establish the adequacy of personal protective equipment for the task.
    * Use of physical control devices to secure equipment or objects worked on to eliminate the potential exposure of a worker to the water stream.  Inadequate risk assessment as the hazard of the pressurized scalding water may have been indentified but the worker did not recognize the increased potential of exposure to the water by placing their boot close to the end nozzle of the wand when attempting to stabilize the parts.

According to Enform, a Safety Alert is designed to prevent similar incidents by communicating the information at the earliest possible opportunity. Accordingly, the information may change over time. It may be necessary to obtain updates from the source before relying upon the accuracy of the information contained herein. Managers and supervisors should evaluate this information to determine if it can be applied to their own situations and practices. More information at