A Jetter Equipment Safety Review by HotJet USA

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A Jetter Equipment Safety Review by HotJet USA

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While incidents and injuries while operating jetting equipment may be rare, it’s imperative that all operators read the safety and operating instructions provided by the jetting equipment manufacturer before using any high-pressure waterblasting equipment. Drain and sewer cleaning can be dangerous if proper procedures are not followed and appropriate safety gear is not utilized. HotJet USA highly recommends that every equipment operator participate in hands-on safety and operational training for the equipment that they will be operating.

Before operating, read the owner’s manual and follow all safety precautions. It’s essential to familiarize yourself with all the procedures — start, stop, valves on/off, etc. — prior to using the equipment on a job site.

Caution: Pressurized water can cause serious bodily harm. Always follow the manufacturer’s recommended operating procedures for all jetting pumps, nozzles and accessories.

  1. Before each use, carefully inspect the nozzle body for damage such as cracks, worn threads and obstructed orifices. Replace damaged or worn nozzles immediately.
  2. Thread sealant is generally recommended on NPT threaded nozzles.
  3. During manual sewer, drain, pipe or tube cleaning operations, the nozzle must be inserted into the line before pressurizing the system. Be certain the nozzle is inserted far enough into the line that any backward facing jets do not pose a hazard to the operator. Always depressurize the system before removing the nozzle. Also, before going on a job the contractor should ensure that all hoses are marked with bright electrical tape or spray paint on the last 15 feet from the end of the spray nozzle in 3- to 5-foot sections. This provides less chance of pulling the nozzle out of the pipe with full pressure in the lines. Once at the job site and the jetting access point determined, get ready to start jetting. Test the unit’s supply hose to ensure adequate water supply.

Sewer jetting is a serious business that can result in serious injury or death when proper safety precautions are not followed. Awareness of common jetting hazards, knowing how to protect oneself from them, and learning and practicing the proper safety procedures can greatly reduce the chances of disaster striking at unexpected moments.

Common jetting hazards

When water is pressurized to 4,000 psi, it becomes a potentially deadly force that can easily result in serious injury when the water jet comes into contact with skin or eyes. The impact of a high-pressure nozzle or leaky hose or being hit by contaminated waste can cause potentially life-threatening injuries. When jetting is performed in confined spaces other OSHA rules for confined-space entry and personal protective equipment must be followed.

Do not ever put hands or other body parts over a nozzle when under pressure.

Personal protective equipment

Proper dress and PPE is also important when performing high-pressure water jetting. Coveralls should be worn. A heavy-duty raincoat should also be worn to keep technicians dry and to help provide a barrier in the event there is contact with debris flying from the pipe.

Safety goggles should always be worn to protect the eyes from a high-pressure jet of water. Water pressure above 2,000 psi requires a full face shield, and at 4,000 psi the water jet can literally tear an eyeball from its socket.

Heavy-duty, waterproof gloves (insulated, if running hot water) are needed to protect the hands. Rubber boots with metatarsal guards are highly recommended. Hard hats are necessary in environments where falling objects are a potential hazard.

Hazardous bacteria and materials

Drains and sewer can carry bacteria and other infectious micro-organisms or materials which can cause death or severe illness. Avoid exposing eyes, nose, mouth, ears, hands and cuts and abrasions to wastewater or other potentially infectious materials during drain and sewer cleaning operations. To further help protect against exposure to infectious materials, wash hands, arms and other areas of the body, as needed, with hot, soapy water and, if necessary, flush mucous membranes with water. Also, disinfect potentially contaminated equipment by washing such surfaces with a hot soapy wash using a strong detergent.

Gasoline is extremely flammable and is explosive under certain conditions

Refuel in a well-ventilated area with the engine stopped. Do not smoke or allow flames or sparks in the area where the engine is refueled or where gasoline is stored. Do not overfill the fuel tank (there should be no fuel in the filler neck). After refueling, make sure the tank cap is closed properly and securely.

Carbon monoxide dangers

Carbon monoxide exhaust and/or gasoline fumes from jetting equipment can create a hazardous atmosphere in confined spaces (which may include, but are not limited to, manholes and septic tanks), closed garages or other areas that may not be properly ventilated. In particular, excess gasoline fumes can create an explosion hazard. Such hazardous atmospheres can cause death or severe injury. Do not operate jetting equipment in any confined space or area with inadequate ventilation. Operate jetting equipment only when located outdoors or in an open, well ventilated area.

Do not ever enter a grease trap without hydrogen sulfide and methane gas level indicator.

Hot water precautions

With the hot water on, it is highly recommended not to turn the water thermostat above 120 degrees F to prevent possible burn/scalding type injury.

Trailer safety

Always remember to retighten and check all fasteners and lug nuts on a regular basis. Trailers create a lot of vibration and fasteners can come loose. The following trailer pre-operation inspection checklist is a great tool for making sure trailers are properly prepared for hauling and road travel:

  • Check hitch chains – make sure the chains are properly attached to tow the vehicle.
  • Check battery charge on breakaway battery.
  • Check tires and tire pressure.
  • Be sure the jack stand is up.
  • Check brake lights, turn signals and running lights.
  • The towing vehicle needs to be of adequate size and hauling capacity.
  • The bumper or hitch should be adequately rated.
  • Pin and clip the securing insert into the receiver.
  • Make sure the towing ball is the correct size and is tight.
  • Ensure the trailer brakes are working properly.
  • Check that the lug nuts are tight (and check on a regular basis).
  • Check all fasteners and lug nuts again periodically during use.
  • Before towing, perform a complete trailer walk-around, looking for any loose parts, etc.

Environmental responsibility

Equipment operators are responsible for making sure the use of their equipment and potential cleaning discharges are safe for the environment. Always remember to check with local codes and regulations in the operation of jetting equipment.

Always keep children at a safe distance when using a jetter system. 

HotJet USA offers comprehensive jetting equipment operational and safety training at its facilities in Salt Lake City. For more information about the training, call 1-800-624-8186 or visit www.hotjetusa.com.



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