Safety is Free. The Little Things Also Matter.
Safety is not just a good idea, it’s a great investment for your pest control spray equipment. In attention to safety has huge financial implications: increased expenses (workers comp, spill clean ups, medical bills, lawsuits, repairs, etc.), lost productivity, employee turnover, customer impacts, bad publicity, etc.
I will discuss how small pest control equipment parts can have a large impact on safety. By small parts I mean:
I raise this issue because many PMP’s pay attention to the expensive components of a power spray rig (pump, motor, reel, etc.) but often overlook the small stuff. While these small components may not be expensive, the wrong component in the wrong place, or a worn component can cause serious safety issues such as chemical spills, chemical exposure, or burst hoses spewing chemical under pressure.
1. Hoses -
Periodically inspect hoses for damage, wear, cuts, nicks, sun damage, cracking, etc. In addition to spray hose, be sure to check hoses between tank, pump, reel, etc. If one of these hoses bursts while the technician is at the end of 200 feet of spray hose, you will have a heck of a chemical spill to clean up.
Check supply hoses to make sure that truck vibration is not causing abnormal wear. If you see this type of wear, replace the hose and wrap the new hose with a larger diameter hose to prevent the same problem from reoccurring.
2. Fittings & Clamps -
There are huge variations in quality of clamps and fittings. For example, fittings can be steel, brass, black pipe, PVC, nylon. Fittings are almost never specified when buying a new rig. The wrong fitting in a critical position can be disastrous. A fitting that is too short, thin, or weak can crack under pressure, vibration or torque, resulting in an expensive spill.
Some things to look for:
- Higher pressure systems require sturdier, heavier-duty fittings.
- Fittings attached to valves that are turned or hoses that are pulled need to be heavier-duty to handle the stress.
- Fittings in key or high-risk positions should be heavier-duty to reduce risk.For example, the pickup fitting coming out of the bottom of a tank is critical. If it breaks, the tank will empty.
- Fittings for larger diameter hoses, such as on termite pretreat rigs, should be sturdier and longer to handle the weight of the hose.
The situation with hose clamps is similar. Make sure your rig has good quality clamps that can stand up to pressure, wear, abuse, etc. On high pressure rigs, consider double clamping hoses for extra security.
3. Valves -
A strategically placed valve can be used to reduce the risk of leaks, spills and downtime, while only minimally adding to cost. For example, a valve before in front of the spray gun reduces the risk of a leaking gun and a valve before your line strainer allows the technician to check the filter regardless of the amount of water in the tank.
Inspect hoses, fittings and clamps periodically to find problems and ensure you and your employees are minimizing risk and being as safe as you can be. When purchasing a power sprayer, pay attention to all components, not just the expensive ones. Email me to share your safety ideas and experiences.
Andrew Greess is the President of Quality Equipment & Spray, which designs and builds custom pest control spray equipment solutions. He can be reached at email@example.com. For more information on this topic or to share your comments, visit his blog at www.sprayequipmentblog.com or follow on twitter.