What are the Main Issues in Hydraulic Hose Safety?
Hydraulic hose safety and accident prevention in industrial and mobile applications is of paramount importance. This article explores issues such as hydraulic hose construction, hose applications, hazard avoidance and preventative safety measures, as well as good practice guidelines for working with hydraulics.
Hydraulic hoses find use in many industries including: civil engineering, automotive, aerospace, energy generation, transport, and robotics. Hydraulic hoses convey hydraulic fluid in hydraulic components and tools. Standard hose construction comprises an inner plastic or rubber tube, covered with a metal, textile or plastic body reinforced with a wire braid or spiral in order to withstand high pressures, and finished with a protective cover to help prevent environmental wear and tear.
Hoses and pipes used in hydraulic applications often have to withstand very high pressures. They come in standard sizes graded for use under specific pressure ranges, as well as temperature and fluid compatibility for use in different environments. The main fluids used in hydraulics are:
- Liquid with high water content
As outlined above, health and safety considerations need to be absolutely paramount when using hydraulic hose assemblies. Horrific injuries, sometimes fatal ones, can result from inadequate safety measures. So to prevent accidents it is vitally important that adequate training is given regarding the potential hazards of hydraulic systems.
What Can Happen When There is an Accident?
Accidents with hydraulic hose assemblies happen for a number of reasons; but mostly it comes down to faulty or damaged machinery or fittings.
Injection injuries are the worst type of injury but are fortunately quite rare. Injection injuries can be particularly dangerous as they do not necessarily look like they have done much damage until later on when the fluid moves through the veins causing acute pain and injury. Avoidance of contact with hot or toxic fluids entering the body through the skin or by inhalation is paramount. Further dangers include the threat of high velocity fluid discharge spraying onto personnel or onto other machinery causing damage.
Accidents may also occur because of hoses whipping, fittings thrown at high speeds, or electric shock. When working with hydraulic oil there is always a threat of fire and the risk of explosion.
Hydraulic accidents not only harm employees, they damage a company’s reputation. By the same token, in the worst-case scenarios where a fatality occurs, there could even be a level of managerial culpability that leads to prosecution under the Corporate Manslaughter Act.
Why Accidents Occur When Using Hydraulic Hose Assemblies
Factors that can influence the life of a hose include kinking, flexing, stretching, and abrasions. The weakest part of the hose is its connection to the fittings, because this is where leaks are most likely to occur. Additionally, any violation of a hose’s bend radius could cause failure which may result in devastating injuries.
Hoses need replacing once they have reached their average shelf life of between 5 to 7 years. In fact, hydraulic hose safety and accident prevention requirements dictate that hoses need changing long before they fail.
How to Prevent Accidents: Hydraulic Hose Safety Tips
- Avoid mixing different suppliers’ products. Not all manufacturers’ products are the same size, or even use the same sizing format. Also, avoid mixing fittings manufactured from different materials.
- Look for high-quality materials when sourcing, fitting, using, maintaining, and replacing hose.
- Make sure to tighten all fittings to the correct tension.
- Use hose whipchecks wherever possible.
- Replace hoses and fittings well before their expiry date.
- Regular inspection for early damage detection and good maintenance practice.
- Ensure your staff receive professional training by a reputable organisation like the BFPA.
- NEVER check for leaks with your hands!
BFPA Training at the Industrial Ancillaries Academy
The Industrial Ancillaries Academy runs a number of training courses in partnership with the British Fluid Power Association (BFPA) designed for anyone who works with hydraulics, and to promote hydraulic hose safety in the workplace.
Basic hydraulics health and safety course.
A 2-day course on hose assembly procedure, including routing and installation.
Health and safety assessment training including risk analysis and competence.
Safety training in the manufacture of small bore tubing assemblies.
Call us on 01246 242050 or get in touch via our Contact page to find out more details about our courses and course dates.
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