Safety is not only a good idea, but it’s a great investment. The financial implications of ignoring safety include increased expenses (workers’ comp, spill cleanups, medical bills, lawsuits, repairs, etc.), lost productivity, employee turnover, impact on customers/public and bad publicity.
The small parts in spray equipment that can have a large impact on safety include:
While these parts may be inexpensive, a worn component or the wrong one in the wrong place can cause injuries, chemical spills, chemical exposure and ruptured hoses.
Here are some ways to ensure that small parts don’t have a negative impact:
Hoses have a usable life, and need to be replaced periodically. Inspect them for damage, wear, cuts, nicks, sun damage and cracking to prevent problems. In addition to observing the spray hose, be sure to check hoses between the tank, pump, reel, etc. If one of these bursts while a technician is using a 200-foot spray hose, there will be a heck of a chemical spill to clean up.
Check supply hoses to make sure that moving parts and truck vibrations are not causing abnormal wear. If this is the case, replace the hose with one with a larger diameter.
Kinked supply hoses impact system operations, productivity and safety. Make sure that all hoses before the pump are suction hoses that won’t collapse, and that all hoses after the pump are pressure hoses that won’t burst under pressure.
There are huge variations in the quality of clamps and fittings. For example, fittings can be steel, brass, black pipe, PVC, nylon, etc. Fittings are almost never specified when buying a new rig. A fitting that is too short, thin or weak can crack from pressure, vibration or torque, resulting in an expensive spill. This risk is magnified in extreme temperatures or in situations where the sprayer will be constantly driven over bumpy roads. Be sure to select fittings that can stand up to the product being applied. For example, many fertilizers will destroy black-pipe fittings in a short time.
Sturdy, heavy-duty fittings should be used for:
• High-pressure systems
• Fittings attached to turned valves or pulled hoses. It may make sense to secure the valve or hose to the vehicle or skid so that the valve takes the stress instead of the fitting.
• Large-diameter hoses, such as those on tree sprayers or termite pre-treat rigs
• Key or high-risk positions. For example, the pickup fitting coming from the bottom of a tank is critical. If it breaks, the tank will empty.
Make sure the rig has quality clamps that will stand up to pressure, wear, abuse, etc. Even new spray rigs can sometimes use inferior clamps that increase the risk to the spray technician and the parks and recreation department. On high-pressure rigs, consider double- or triple-clamping hoses for extra safety and security.
A strategically placed valve can reduce the risk of leaks, spills and downtime with minimal cost. For example, a valve placed at the hose end before the spray gun prevents the gun from leaking, and allows the technician to shut off the flow. A valve before the line strainer (filter) allows the technician to check the filter regardless of the amount of water in the tank.
When purchasing a power sprayer, pay attention to all components, not just the expensive ones. This is especially important for parks and rec departments that purchase equipment based on the “lowest bid.”
Please e-mail me to share safety ideas and experiences. Happy spraying.
Andrew Greess is the President of Quality Equipment & Spray, which designs and builds custom landscape, golf- and pest-control spray equipment solutions. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org