Understanding hydraulic risks and avoiding accidents
But are you sure? Are you ready to handle a running system with confidence?
Because it’s like facing an inexperienced knife thrower.
Would you? Honestly, no. It’s not worth the risk, and the consequences would be dramatic.
The same applies when working with hydraulic systems. It’s essential to take the usual precautions.
Can you imagine a pressurized component bursting just a few centimeters away from you? I won’t give you a diagram, you’ve got it.
So let’s take a look at the risks involved.
How about limiting the damage?
Let me list the main causes of accidents:
- Failure to carry out preventive maintenance
- Defects in hydraulic products
- Pressurized oil micro-leaks not visible to the naked eye
- Breakage of a component or burst hose
- Repeated movements of machine components
And the list goes on.
Although the equipment used is of the highest quality, there is no such thing as zero risk. Respecting the safety elements is of the utmost importance here. Every user must take a serious safety approach to the use of hydraulic systems.
Failure to do so can jeopardize the health and, in some cases, even the lives of yourself and others around you.
Oil sprays and splashes are no picnic. You may suffer minor burns, contusions, cuts or abrasions. Even worse, septicemia due to an injection of oil under the skin.
If this happens, don’t take it lightly, even if you don’t feel any pain. You don’t have the regenerative powers of Deadpool (Marvel hero). Then seek medical attention right away.
Rest assured. Read on and you’ll see that you can work safely.
I’d therefore advise you to follow these few tips to ensure that everything runs smoothly when using a hydraulic system, for example.
Use safety goggles, gloves, safety shoes and work uniform whenever you are near the plant. You may be asked to wear a helmet.
Approach pressure taps, ball couplings and hoses with care when they’re under pressure, especially if the device doesn’t seem to meet safety standards. A ball can be expelled from its housing at the same speed as a pistol bullet. As for the hoses, they can literally be transformed into swords…
No, you’re not reading a creepy thriller, but believe me, you wouldn’t want to be involved in any serious affairs.
Wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) is one thing, but periodic inspections of hydraulic installations are another.
Let’s take a closer look.
Preventive maintenance guarantees your safety
Depending on your system, the frequency of inspections will vary. To do this, it is essential to consult your manual and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations. To give you an idea, mobile or stationary equipment will need to be checked every 3 months.
But beware of the following factors, which will also have an impact on frequency:
- In what condition is the equipment stored?
- Are there any outside influences?
- What is it made of?
- What are the hydraulic pressures (working pressures)?
- What is the frequency and type of use?
In short, there are so many questions to be answered.
As a general rule,maintenance and inspection are carried out on three levels (you can do the same for a trainer):
- Carry out a few simple daily checks to avoid breakdowns: oil level, absence of leaks from fittings, clogged filters, visible defects on hoses, pipes and hydraulic connections, noises made by the pump and tightening of screws…
- Then schedule routine maintenance: check all filter elements, components,oil condition…
- Finally, carry out a complete check-up, including cleaning or replacing faulty equipment and draining the circuit.
Of course, this is just an overview of preventive maintenance. In addition, to reduce the risk of breakdowns, it’s a good idea to choose components and other equipment that comply with safety standards that have been mandatory in EU countries since May 29, 2002.
Hydraulic safety standards are not insignificant
These are laid down in European Directive 98/37/EC on the safety of machinery. In particular, they meet compliance and safety requirements for hydraulic hoses:ISO 12100 / EN 292 and EN 982.
But what exactly does that mean? Let me put it in a nutshell:
- ISO 12100 / EN 292: Basic concepts and standard design principles.
- EN 982: All hoses must bear the manufacturer’s name and date of manufacture. The aim is to recognize the latter directly via a marking and ensure that impulse tests are respected (cyclic longevity tests).
The hoses used on our training benches comply with the relevant standards and meet much higher standards.
How is this possible? It’s so simple.
We have chosen hoses designed to guarantee optimum quality and long service life.
But that’s not all.
They are covered by a “jet-breaker” sock with a very strong weave, securely fastened with an anti-whipping cable in case they rip or burst.
Ok. But what else?
To work safely, it is essential to follow the installation rules.
Without further ado, here are a few tips on how to use it:
- Keep the bending radius to a minimum, but leave a little clearance. The hose loses its flexibility when under pressure. Its longevity will be less affected.
- Avoid twisting and bending hoses. Remember to use clamps and an angled adapter.
And we’re not stopping there. Hydraulic check valves, found on hoses or cylinders for example, allow fluid to flow in one direction only. In this way, the seal is ensured and the mechanical action of the actuator takes place in the desired direction.
Batteries must be supported and secured with a clamp. Above all, it is forbidden to intervene on the hydraulic circuit without first having recorded, decompressed and, above all, checked for the absence of pressure. This must be fitted with a shut-off and safety block to relieve the pressure.
Finally, couplings and pressure taps are just as important to monitor. If the cap is not screwed on when not in use, there is a risk of injury in the event of leaks, and of polluting the circuit.
And pollution can have far-reaching consequences.
Clean equipment is healthy equipment
Pipe cleanliness is often underestimated. In other words, the level of particulate contamination in components and circuits has an impact on the performance of hydraulic equipment.
By carrying out decontamination work, you can :
- Improving production
- Reduce breakdowns by 70%.
- Reduce safety risks
- Reduce maintenance costs…
- And much more…
And we often forget thatnew oil is already polluted.
I won’t go into too much detail here, as we cover all this in our feature on filtration.
What’s in it for us?
By complying with all instructions, regulations and common sense, you know how to act. You know how to spot component failures. You know how to reduce the potential risk to yourself and others.
The positive impacts on prevention are numerous. I can name just a few:
- Peace of mind in use
- Reduced equipment downtime
- Longer plant life
- Occupational risk prevention
- Fewer costly investments
- A reduction in safety-related accidents
What you learned today
Whether it’s a hydraulic system or a trainer, the same safety principles apply.
It’s essential. I can only encourage you to do so.
Today, you’ve learned about the most common causes of accidents, how to protect yourself and, above all, how to avoid them by using common-sense precautions and preventive maintenance. You also understand thefinancial impact of a safety program.
Prevention is better than cure, isn’t it? By regularly monitoring the physical condition of your plant, you can significantly reduce the cost of repairs, and avoid downtime.
What’s more, you’ll be able to raise awareness of hydraulic safety among your colleagues and students.
I’m not worried. I know you’ll make the right choice when it comes to materials.
Feel free to share this article with anyone interested in this subject.
See you soon,
Written by Mickaël Langlais
As Business Manager at ID System, I help training professionals define their didactic equipment needs. I keep a close eye on technological developments to design tomorrow’s teaching materials. Let’s be proactive in an evolving market.
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