A pressure washer is like a loaded gun and should be treated with care. The Nautical Institute issues this warning in its latest Mars Report, in which a crew member was injured by the water jet.

The Nautical Institute gathers reports of maritime accidents and near-misses. It then publishes these so-called Mars Reports (anonymously) to prevent other accidents from happening. A summary of this incident:

On a vessel underway, two engine room crew were detailed to clean the engine room ventilator water mist catcher using a pressure cleaner. The job progressed without incident and afterwards, the two crew proceeded to clean the carbon and other debris on the poop deck.

One of the crew was holding the lance of the pressure washer when he inadvertently pressed the trigger. The sudden pressure surge produced a hydraulic kick-back force in the lance, and the water jet hit him on his left leg just above the knee. The victim screamed and released the trigger and the lance. The other crew member immediately stopped the pressure washer.

Lifting the coverall to reveal the injury showed that there was bleeding from a wound created by the high pressure water stream and that a small portion of the flesh in that area was missing. The victim was given first aid, which was, in this case, sufficient.

Also read: Pressure washer injures two crew

Advice from The Nautical Institute

  • A pressure washer is like a loaded gun. The water forces generated can cause severe injury 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.

Mars Reports

This accident was covered in the Mars Reports, originally published as Mars 202337, that are part of Report Number 370. A selection of the Mars Reports are also published in the SWZ|Maritime magazine. The Nautical Institute compiles these reports to help prevent maritime accidents. That is why they are also published (in full) on SWZ|Maritime’s website.

More reports are needed to keep the scheme interesting and informative. All reports are read only by the Mars coordinator and are treated in the strictest confidence. To submit a report, please use the Mars report form.

Also read: Nautical Institute: Stay out of the ‘line of fire’ when working with mooring lines