The Safe Operation of Hydraulic Tools

Hydraulic tools offer the user great versatility when it comes to transmitting power and controlling motion. Unfortunately, if operated incorrectly, they can become extremely dangerous: this is due to the way in which the fluid is stored under high pressure and the potential high force capability of the tool.

Therefore, it is critical to know how to operate your hydraulic power tools, especially if your hydraulic tool has been custom-made for your individual requirements.

Before you begin any job using your high pressure hydraulic tools, it is strongly recommended that you assess the job to be done: is there any potential danger associated with it and what are the possible hazards?

If you have never operated that particular hydraulic tool before, be extra careful and ask for additional guidance or training from a competent operator of the tool if necessary.

What are the consequences of not following the proper safety procedures when operating a hydraulic tool?

This is an especially important question and it is essential to understand that high pressure hydraulic tools in can cause injury and even death.

Consider the fact that even a tiny, pin-sized hole in your hydraulic system will be able to cause the oil within the tool to exit at a speed of almost 1000 miles per hour. The force of this can easily cause extensive damage to the skin and surrounding tissues. Such injuries are known as hydraulic fluid injection injuries and can be life-threatening.

In addition, many hydraulic power tools often work at remarkably high temperatures. This means that the fluid in the hydraulic tool can be at an exceedingly high temperature that is close to boiling point. Therefore, not only can this result in injury due to the sheer force of the hydraulic fluid injection, it can also cause painful (and sometimes life-threatening) burns.

Are there any guidelines that need to be followed?

  • Before commencing a job with a hydraulic tool, always perform a safety risk assessment.
  • Wear the correct protective safety equipment but understand that it can only do so much should something go wrong.
  • Avoid working on a system under load or on a live hydraulic system and do not manually perform leak checks.
  • Have a circuit or system diagram available and understand where the isolation points are, as well as the load locks and accumulators.
  • Do not use your hydraulic tool if it hasn’t been intended for that purpose.
  • Ensure that appropriate hydraulic fitting is used at all times.
  • Use isolation devices to check, isolate and secure all the energy sources in the system.
  • Never exceed your hydraulic cylinder rating because this will strain the components and compromise the safety of the hydraulic tool.
  • Make sure that all hose types and ends are appropriate for your system’s operating pressure.

What are the advantages of using hydraulic tools compared to regular tools and how can the correct operation of hydraulic tools increase efficiency?

Hydraulic power tools offer many advantages over regular tools. Firstly, as long as they are safely operated, they are easy to use and improve your accuracy and control due to the massive amount of power that they use. Secondly, hydraulic tools are more favourable as they have few moving parts than regular tools, making them much easier to maintain.

In terms of efficiency, hydraulic power tools have an edge over regular tools. These tools use energy that originates from compressed oil, making them able to exert a lot of power in only a short space of time. They also do not freeze at low temperatures and are able to work underwater.

Their moving parts are also self-lubricating, and this makes them quieter than other tools and more durable and long-lasting.

What are the safe operating procedures to follow when operating hydraulic tools?

Hydraulic tools are the best option as they are efficient, more durable, are quieter and much more accurate. The only catch is that you need to know how to operate them safely. Below are the safe operating procedures to follow when operating high pressure hydraulic tools:

1) Always use your hydraulic tools correctly and according to the user manual.

This is vitally important, and users of hydraulic systems should always consult the user manual and receive the necessary training before using the tool. Remember that hydraulic tools have the potential to cause injury and even death, so safe operation is key.

2) Have regular training courses for hydraulic tool operators.

Using hydraulic tools safely is so much more than knowing how to operate them correctly. Users need to receive regular safety training where they learn how to recognize potential hazards, how to prevent unsafe operation and mitigating hazards that do occur. Here at SLS Bearings, together with our hydraulic partner, we offer training courses on how to operate hydraulic tools safely.

3) Conduct regular audits of your hydraulic tools.

Regular and thorough auditing of your hydraulic equipment is essential to ensure that they are operating optimally and that there are no faulty components.

4) Evaluate the environment in which the hydraulic tool will be operated.

In addition to being able to operate hydraulic equipment safely, users of these tools need to know what a safe operating environment is. This involves checking oil temperatures and looking for other hazards like poor ventilation, spilled oil, trip hazards, standing water, poor electrical connections and standing water.

5) Wear the appropriate protective equipment.

Although protective equipment may not protect the user entirely in the event of a bad accident, it can reduce the risk of injury. The correct protective equipment for hydraulic tool operation includes, hard hats, safety goggles, gloves, and boots.

6) Check the stroke and load ratings.

It is recommended to regularly checking the stroke and load ratings and ensuring that you never exceed 80% of these ratings.

If you want to find out more information visit the SLS Bearings website today!

Source: SLS Bearings 

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Matthew Seaman

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