Eight best practices and measures when ensuring safety in hydraulic systems 

Hydraulic systems play a vital role in numerous industries, powering heavy machinery and enabling precise control in various applications. While these systems offer impressive power and efficiency, they also come with inherent risks. Power Team SA understands that ensuring the safety of personnel, equipment, and the environment is important when working with hydraulic systems, and that safety measures and best practices to minimise potential hazards associated with hydraulic systems need to be put in place.

Power Team SA suggest the following practices that all industries should insist on when working with machinery:

  1. Proper training and education

Before interacting with hydraulic systems, personnel must undergo comprehensive training to understand the fundamental principles, components, and potential risks involved. Training programs should cover safe operation, maintenance, troubleshooting, and emergency procedures. This knowledge equips operators with the tools to make informed decisions and respond effectively to unexpected situations.

  1. Regular inspection and maintenance

Routine inspections and maintenance are crucial for identifying potential issues before they escalate into major problems. Inspect hydraulic lines, fittings, hoses, and seals for signs of wear, leaks, or damage. Regularly check fluid levels, filters, and pressure readings to ensure the system is functioning optimally. Addressing minor concerns promptly can prevent catastrophic failures down the line.

  1. Pressure relief devices

Hydraulic systems operate under high pressure, which can result in sudden and dangerous releases if not properly managed. Install pressure relief valves and devices to automatically release excess pressure and prevent overloads. Ensure these relief mechanisms are correctly calibrated and inspected regularly to maintain their effectiveness.

  1. Fluid compatibility and contamination control

Selecting the appropriate hydraulic fluid is essential to maintain system integrity and performance. Different systems require specific types of fluids, and using the wrong fluid can lead to component damage or system failure. Implement rigorous fluid contamination control by regularly replacing filters and conducting fluid analysis. Contaminated fluids can cause wear, corrosion, and reduced efficiency, compromising both safety and functionality.

  1. Personal protective equipment (PPE)

Operators and maintenance personnel should always wear appropriate PPE when working with hydraulic systems. This may include safety glasses, gloves, protective clothing, and steel-toed boots. PPE acts as a crucial barrier against potential hazards like fluid leaks, high-pressure spray, and debris.

  1. Lockout/tagout procedures

Before performing any maintenance or repairs, implement lockout/tagout procedures to prevent accidental system activation. Lockout/tagout procedures involve isolating the system’s energy sources and securing them with locks or tags to prevent unauthorised operation. This ensures the safety of workers performing maintenance tasks.

  1. Emergency shutdown procedures

Incorporate clear and well-communicated emergency shutdown procedures that all personnel understand. Everyone involved should know how to quickly and safely shut down the hydraulic system in case of a malfunction, leak, or other emergencies.

  1. Proper lifting and handling techniques

Hydraulic systems often power heavy machinery, which requires proper lifting and handling techniques to avoid accidents. Train operators to lift loads within the system’s rated capacity and maintain stability during operations. Incorrect lifting practices can lead to instability, tipping, or load dropping.

Hydraulic systems provide exceptional power and precision across various industries, but their safe operation requires diligence, knowledge, and adherence to best practices. By prioritising proper training, regular maintenance, and comprehensive safety measures, organizations can mitigate risks, protect personnel, and ensure the longevity and efficiency of their hydraulic systems.

Power Team SA’s team is always on hand to help with not only the recommendation of hydraulic components, but also with how to properly maintain them. This experienced team are open to assisting with all queries.