Hydrodemolition – The Importance of PPE

At Sabre Jetting Services Ltd we provide our operators with the latest and most relevant hydrodemolition PPE available. Over the years it has been a challenge to find suitable PPE for such a small and specialist industry and we have even had to develop our own in order to ensure our operators are protected to the highest available standard. As you can see if you watch some of the videos on our website, our operators work in enclosed areas with concrete debris bursting off towards them at high velocity as they remove it. In addition to the flying concrete debris, the operators are also working in wet conditions and utilising potentially dangerous (if used incorrectly) high pressure water within close vicinity of their body. PPE is a crucial part of a system of control measures put in place to protect the operators from the potential hazards of their working environment.

In view of the necessity for suitable PPE when carrying out hydrodemolition, Sabre Jetting has committed considerable time and money into finding the finest PPE available. This search has included trials by our operators, development committees, independent testing and the creation of technical files for CE certificates of conformity. Although we are currently satisfied that we are using the best PPE available for this niche industry, we continue to look out for progress made by the suppliers and to look at ways develop the PPE which is created in house.

Items of PPE

All of our operators are issued with their own pair of TST High Trousers which offer protection against the water jet. These have been selected as they are rated up to 3000 BAR and are most likely to offer protection should the operator swipe himself with the lance. We have found from using the TST High Trousers and other similar products that the TST PPE offers greater comfort and range of movement than the other products therefore allowing the operator greater control of the jetting gun.

The wellingtons worn by our operators are chainsaw wellingtons which have a steel toe cap. Although there are two specialist water jetting wellingtons on the market, they have been found to be unsuitable for a hydrodemolition environment and fail to provide the primary function of a wellington, keeping the feet dry. The wellingtons we provide are selected for their durability and high slip resistance.

Wearing a chainsaw wellington rather than a water jetting wellington poses one problem, and that is how to provide enhanced metatarsal protection. For this we have found that the Falch Foot Protectors are the optimum solution. The Falch Foot Protectors have been selected following extensive trials of metatarsal protection. Three alternative options have been discounted following trials due to their unsuitability when carrying out hydrodemolition. The Falch Foot Protectors are found to be easy to secure to the wellington with good coverage of the foot. Operators have reported that they stay in position during jetting and do not provide any limitation on movement. All our operators are issued with their own Falch Foot Protectors and wear them on every job we carry out.

An integral part of the PPE provided to our employees is the two piece wetsuit. As you can imagine, you could get rather wet when carrying out hydrodemolition and this wetsuit is therefore essential to keep the operator dry whilst also protecting the legs, arms and torso against rebounding concrete debris. The wetsuits we provide are Scandinavian manufactured heavy duty fishing wetsuits and stand up well to the rigours of hydrodemolition. An alternative lightweight wetsuit is also available for use when carrying out less aggressive applications. Operators are issued with new wetsuits every 6 months or, sooner if any damage occurs during wear.

Due to the noise levels created by the water leaving the jetting nozzle at high speed, all hydrodemolition operatives must wear hearing protection. In order to find the preferred product, we tested a number of ear defenders with SNR ratings high enough to reduce noise exposure to the required levels. Following feedback from the operators a HL ear plug was selected based on comfort, and ease of use, but also ensuring that the product gave the necessary attenuation at the noise frequency created by the water jet.

Possibly the most critical item of PPE for a hydrodemolition operative is the jetting mask. This item offers protection to the eyes and face from flying concrete debris. Despite being such a vital piece of PPE there is nothing available off the shelf from the major PPE manufacturers that is suitable for use in the hydrodemolition industry. Sabre Jetting Services have therefore developed our own mask which has been independently tested and deemed to meet the requirements of EN166-B, the standard for protection against high speed particles. Each mask is manufactured to a strict standard following instructions set out in the product technical folder, ensuring our operators are always using a mask made to the highest possible standard.

In order to guarantee our operators have the correct PPE at all times, Sabre Jetting Services conduct meetings twice a year to issue and inspect PPE. Operators are also encouraged to return any damaged PPE for replacement as required.

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