Quality Waterjet Newsletter 02/07/2006

Safety Issues in Waterjet Job Shops


Safety First! Safety issues need to be brought up from time to time. An article on waterjet job shop safety, by Monno et al. *, is reviewed below.


According to industrial accident statistics, 60% of the accidents are due to dangerous actions and 40% to dangerous conditions. Accidents in job shops reflect this trend while accidents in quarry and building sites are mostly due to dangerous conditions. In job shops, accidents usually happen when operators manipulate small parts by hand around the jet or perform maintenance with the jet on.


Waterjet, with or without abrasives, can penetrate human body (no surprise here). Once the jet reaches its maximum depth, stagnation pressure can cause water and contaminants (e.g. abrasive particles) spread into multiple layers of tissue and subsequently cause infection if not treated immediately and properly.


An accident that happened in an Italian waterjet shop was reported. A worker was hit by the jet in the hand due to wrongful maintenance operation and he was immediately taken to a nearby hospital. Due to lack of knowledge of this kind of wounds, the doctor only gave him some light medication to remove the edema and then sent him home. Fortunately the Italian Waterjet Society, after learning about the accident, recommended transferring the patient to the Civil Hospital of Legnano, where the doctors have more knowledge about this kind of wounds.  Eventually the patient received proper treatment and his hand was saved.


Some lessons have been learnt from this case. Safe operation procedures sometimes are not available or ignored. In case of accident, the wound tends to be neglected by the injured because it appears so small. A proper first-aid procedure is often not available. Doctors are not properly informed and trained about this kind of wounds.


It was strongly recommended that every personnel involved with high-pressure systems should carry a Waterjet Safety card (Note: like those offered by WJTA), which provides doctors with information about this kind of wounds when needed. A proper first-aid procedure should include:

a)    Shock management safeguarding of breathing and circulatory activities;

b)    Wound care the wound must be wrapped in sterile gauze and compression should be used to stop hemorrhage, but do not use tourniquet;

c)    Asseveration of amputated parts after wrapping the part in soft, sterile and water-resistant gauze, put it in water-resistant bag and cool it with ice (keep it about 4°C);

d)    Seek immediate medical care the injured and the amputated part should be sent to hospital as soon as possible.


* Monno, M., Ravasio, C., and Petrolati, M. “Analysis of an accident in a job shop in Italy,” Proceedings of the 16th International Conference on Water Jetting, Aix-end Provence, France, October 16-18, 2002, pp 403-412.

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