Hydraulic power packs operate at high pressures, the units can get hot and they often generate high noise levels. Are these systems therefore safe for the average person to operate? What are the common hazards associated with working with hydraulic power units and how can these hazards be mitigated?
Here we look at safety precautions associated with the efficient use of modern Hydraulic Power Pack systems. Unit operators and other personnel in the operating space should pay attention to the potential hazards. These include a risk of burns, injuries from fluid injection systems, and hearing damage. Highlighting these risks minimises the risk of serious incidents occurring and leads to a safer working environment for everyone.
Risks of Heat and Overheating
The working temperature of a hydraulic power pack unit can reach up to 110 degrees C and therefore the unit must be treated with caution. These temperatures can burn the skin upon contact. Guards must be erected around the unit to minimise the risk of injury. Operators should also allow the machine to cool adequately before carrying out maintenance or touching any part of the unit. Hydraulic power packs may also overheat. Since this is a possibility, take care to turn off the unit if the temperature rises rapidly. This will prevent system damage and the possibility of injury.
Hydraulic Fluid Risks
There are dangers linked to using hydraulic fluid in the system, which can be stored up to a pressure of 2,000 pounds per square inch. Check that all pipework is securely attached and maintained and that hoses are connected properly and are free from leaks. Take particular care to mitigate the risk of fluid injection injury. This injury occurs when an operator receives an “injection” of hydraulic fluid from a leaking pipe or hose. The hydraulic fluid is a poison that can cause infection, sometimes resulting in the loss of a limb. Care must be taken not to come into contact with hydraulic fluid, particularly from a leaking hose.
Damage to Hearing
An operational hydraulic power unit can generate up to 65+ decibels and this sound rating rises when an operator is standing close to the machine. At close proximity, the sound rating approaches 80 decibels. This level of noise damages hearing when it is prolonged and constant. Operators should wear earplugs when working near the unit. These should be compulsory for anyone operating the machine for long periods.
Hydraulic packs are essential components in industry. These hydraulic power units are safe to operate provided they are handled according to manufacturer protocol and operated in line with the correct procedures and specifications. These processes include adhering to the hazard-mitigation steps to protect workers from potentially hazardous chemicals, sound, and heat. All operators should receive the appropriate training in the safe and efficient operation of a hydraulic unit, which will not only improve health and safety but also extend the life of the equipment.