Hydraulic fluids are the lifeblood of a hydraulic system, but they are not so health-giving to human beings or the planet. Fortunately, the risks associated with hydraulic fluids can be controlled by following these simple safety tips.
Some hydraulic fluids contain chemicals that can cause skin irritation if touched, as well as more serious adverse reactions if ingested or injected. It is wise to always wear gloves when working with hydraulic fluids to help prevent skin contact. Wearing gloves when touching pressurized components is also smart, as when fluid shoots out of a pinhole leak at 2,000 psi it can easily penetrate the skin, perhaps without you even knowing.
Most types of hydraulic fluid are flammable, although there are some fire-resistant fluids on the market. If you are not using a fire-resistant fluid, there is a very real risk of superheated fluids combusting, causing explosions and fires. To help control this risk, you need to keep a careful eye on the system temperature within your equipment.
Lubrication is one of the primary functions of your hydraulic fluid. This is all well and good inside the system, but outside the system that same slipperiness can become a liability. It would be easy for someone to slip and fall in a puddle of hydraulic fluid. Equipment operators have even been known to slip while climbing up onto their machines if they happen to have fluid on their hands or shoes. To avoid these kinds of risks, try to clean up all fluid discharges promptly.
Many hydraulic fluids contain various chemical additives that help preserve the service life of your hydraulic components, but can shorten the life of plants and animals if the fluids contaminate soil or water. One way to prevent this risk is to consider using an eco-friendly, biodegradable fluid instead. Of course, these fluids are not necessarily suitable for all operational requirements. If you can’t use an eco-friendly fluid, make sure to always dispose of used fluid responsibly.
One final safety tip for working with hydraulic fluids is to simply turn to the pros whenever your equipment needs service or repair. At Bernell Hydraulics, we offer a complete range of hydraulic services including 24 hour on site repair service. So the next time you have a fluid leak or a system temperature problem, simply call us for fast and effective assistance.