Pressure washing goes purple with a WJA code of practice

The Water Jetting Association has launched a new code of practice for the safe use of pressure washing equipment.

The code – known as the Purple Code due to its purple cover – has been approved by the HSE and the first of its kind to provide guidance on the use of lower pressure water jetting techniques.

Its full title is the WJA code of practice for the safe use of pressure washers with pressures up to 207 bar and flow up to 22 litres (5 imperial gallons) per minute.

The Purple Code now sits alongside the WJA’s two other long-established codes. The Blue Code is for the safe use of high pressure and ultra-high pressure water jetting equipment.

The Red Code is for the safe use of water jetting equipment in drains and sewers and surface preparation with a jetting gun at pressures up to 275 bar (4,000 psi) that an operative can comfortably control.

WJA President John Jones said: “Given the wide use of pressure washing equipment, both commercially and domestically, the Purple Code is, arguably, one of the most important documents the WJA has produced in recent years.

“We’ve worked hard to make sure it is accurate, up-to-date and, above all, easy to follow and practical, so operatives get clear guidance on how to use pressure washing equipment safely and productively.

“Pressure washing is an increasingly important application in many industrial and commercial settings, and in countless gardens and drives up and down the UK. Therefore, it’s vital that there is authoritative, expert-led guidance to control the risks associated with it.”

Water at pressures as seven bar (100 psi) can puncture skin or damage eyes. At pressures up to 207 bar (3,000 psi), common in pressure washing systems, the damage caused by water jets to the body can be catastrophic. Also, harsh chemicals can be added, and water can be heated to boiling point.

The WJA’s Purple Code is thought to be the first pressure washing code of practice published anywhere in the world. It was finalised with the assistance of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

WJA Technical Manager Gordon Taylor explained: “The HSE has reviewed the WJA Purple Code and we’ve incorporated its recommendations to ensure it is fully aligned with latest health and safety laws and regulations.

“We hope it means the HSE will view the document as the UK’s foremost authoritative guide to safe pressure washing, in the same way it sees our Blue and Red Codes as setting the industry standards for their water jetting applications.

“Powerful pressure washing equipment is widely available but the risks associated with it are often not well understood by operatives.

“We’re very keen to work proactively with contractors and service users to make the WJA Purple Code widely available to address this issue and ensure pressure washing is carried out as safely as possible.”

The WJA Purple Code follows the same format as the two other codes. Its 100 pages has 19 sections covering topics that include:

  • Personal protective equipment;
  • Water jetting team organisation and duties;
  • Frost precautions;
  • Water jetting units;
  • Hose assemblies, including inspection and testing;
  • Safe use of pressure washing equipment, including training.

In a series of appendices, the code shows the WJA injury treatment algorithm, which gives clear instruction on treating water jetting injuries from first response to post-hospital rehabilitation.

The WJA Purple Code will be used as an important aid in the delivery of the WJA’s City & Guilds-accredited Pressure Washing course.

The one-day course, delivered by WJA-approved coach/examiners provides class-based learning and practical skills assessment. Candidates are then examined on their knowledge using the CLiKAPAD digital response tool, with a 75% pass mark required.

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