The Australian Mining Review - - PRESSURE CLEANERS - NIKKI WEAVER

STEAM, SAFETY AND STER­IL­I­SA­TION Let’s not beat around the bush. Min­ing is a lu­cra­tive in­dus­try so there’s no short­age of sup­pli­ers queu­ing to get their foot in the door, par­tic­u­larly when it comes to in­dus­trial pres­sure wash­ers. Does higher cost equal bet­ter qual­ity, or are there other fac­tors to be con­sid­ered?

In this day and age, a driv­ing fac­tor for mines is Health and Safety. There are OH&S poli­cies for al­most any sit­u­a­tion, so what safety con­sid­er­a­tions come into play with pres­sure clean­ers and what fea­tures do they re­quire in or­der to make them com­pli­ant?

Well, that’s big ques­tion re­quir­ing an ex­pert answer, so the AMR spoke to Steve Mol­son from trusted mine site provider, Mine­spec Hire, to rinse out the truth when it comes to pres­sure washer safety.

So, what are the key cri­te­ria for an OH&S com­pli­ant pres­sure cleaner?

ZERO-PRES­SURE BY-PASS SYS­TEM There is a pres­sure ac­ti­vated valve in the water out­let side of the pump, which en­gages as soon as the trig­ger is re­leased by the op­er­a­tor. The pres­sure spike causes the by-pass valve to open, re­cir­cu­lat­ing water back through the pump and drop­ping the pres­sure at the lance to zero. With this fea­ture, even if the lance was to be ac­ci­den­tally re­moved whilst the pump was still run­ning, there is no water pres­sure in the line, ren­der­ing it per­fectly safe.

To be fully com­pli­ant, this by-pass valve must also be locked, so that the open line pres­sure al­ways re­mains zero. An added safety ben­e­fit of this sys­tem is that when the op­er­a­tor pulls the trig­ger to start wash­ing again, the by­pass valve gives a soft-start as pres­sure grad­u­ally builds.

This elim­i­nates sud­den and un­ex­pected kick-back from the gun, which has caused many in­juries to date.


Con­ven­tional, pull-back, quick-re­lease fit­tings (sim­i­lar to those used in air lines) can be ac­ci­den­tally dis­con­nected with dra­matic re­sults. Imag­ine a 2m lance, clean­ing a ma­chine with 5000psi dis­charg­ing from the noz­zle. Pic­ture that lance sud­denly pop­ping free of the cou­pling and be­ing pro­pelled for­ward like a spear with all that pres­sure be­hind it.

Pic­ture also the non-by­passed flex­i­ble hose end now thrash­ing around with enough water pres­sure to re­move fin­gers and crack bones with the metal cou­pling.

This may sound dra­matic, but these ac­ci­dents have and do hap­pen. To help mit­i­gate this risk, pres­sure wash­ers should be fit­ted with spe­cial dis­con­nect fit­tings that must be twisted sev­eral full turns to sep­a­rate the hose from the lance.

FIXED THER­MO­STAT FOR HOT WASH Hot pres­sure wash­ers not only make short work of large quan­ti­ties of grease, dirt and oil, they are also ex­cel­lent tools for ster­il­i­sa­tion of ar­eas such as toi­lets, show­ers, kitchens, laun­dries and other ar­eas where virus trans­mis­sion is at a higher risk on a mine site.

Typ­i­cally, these ma­chines use a diesel burner to heat the water that can reach 100ºC at full flow, reg­u­lated by a vari­able ther­mo­stat. Some can be di­aled back to ac­tu­ally clean with steam.

Prob­lems can oc­cur in hot wash­ers if the trig­ger valve is dam­aged and the water is al­lowed to driz­zle out, in­stead of be­ing stopped com­pletely. By drib­bling out, the diesel burner still senses water flow through the sys­tem and stays on.

The prob­lem here is that there is too lit­tle water flow to bleed off the mount­ing pres­sure – de­spite the ther­mo­stat - and the end re­sult can be a cat­a­strophic ex­plo­sion.

This is why a fixed ther­mo­stat, set to a max­i­mum of 87ºC, will add an­other layer of safety. If pres­sure builds in the burner, a man­ual dump valve opens, al­low­ing cool water to flow in, ex­pelling the hot water and pres­surised steam, thus elim­i­nat­ing the risk of a rup­tured burner.


This de­vice is lo­cated in­side the ex­haust pipe and pre­vents glow­ing, red-hot car­bon em­bers from be­ing shot out of the pipe and po­ten­tially start­ing fires. In the tin­der dry heat of the Gold­fields, with fuel float­ing on water or in work­shops strewn with oily rags, spark ar­restors are a must.

At Mine­spec Hire, all trailer-mounted pres­sure clean­ers are fit­ted with Aus­tralian-made, mine-spe­cific safety fea­tures to en­sure that your team and your equip­ment are safe.

This ex­pe­ri­enced WA com­pany also of­fer hire op­tions rang­ing from one week to 12-months, and in ad­di­tion to mo­bile pres­sure clean­ers, have a wide range of equip­ment and un­der­ground ve­hi­cles for hire. All ve­hi­cles have been fully work­shop in­spected and tested, en­sur­ing main­te­nance is up to date and the ve­hi­cles are in per­fect con­di­tion.

Con­sid­er­ing the high cost of out­right pur­chase for mine equip­ment and un­der­ground ve­hi­cles, Mine­spec of­fers a cheaper al­ter­na­tive with the op­tion of main­te­nance and sup­port via their base in the Gold­fields. They of­fer a com­pletely unique ser­vice to the min­ing com­mu­nity.

As men­tioned, Mine­spec have an es­tab­lished me­chan­i­cal re­pair and main­te­nance work­shop in Kal­go­or­lie. Their hire ve­hi­cles are avail­able from this branch and ve­hi­cles can be re­turned to the work­shop for ma­jor re­pairs and ser­vic­ing. On-site ser­vic­ing and re­pairs of ve­hi­cles and 24-hour break­down ser­vice is also avail­able to keep crit­i­cal mine ve­hi­cles in op­er­a­tion around the clock.

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