20 October, 2017

Keeping safe when installing, inspecting and replacing hydraulic hoses

25 October, 2016

By Jerry Hughes.


In all engineering-related disciplines a coherent and responsible health & safety regime is critical, and in the field of hydraulic hoses and related equipment and systems this requirement is no exception. Fluid power equipment and related technology plays a critical role in all end user sectors, including construction and mining, offshore oil & gas, agriculture and manufacturing. However, if hydraulic hoses and connectors are not inspected, maintained and replaced in a responsible fashion, then there will always be the risk of life-changing bodily harm or even death due to such injuries as fluid injection or hose whip.

The following guidance tips are by no means a comprehensive guide to best practice with regard to inspecting, maintaining and replacing hydraulic hose and connectors, but, it is hoped, will provide a useful overview of the type of things to bear in mind and to be aware of from a safety perspective.

Installation

On the subject of hydraulic hose installation as part of a fluid power system, the guidelines under ISO/TS 17165-2:2013 provide invaluable advice for the selection, routing, fabrication, installation, replacement, maintenance and storage of hose and hose assemblies for hydraulic fluid power systems. For example, it addresses how to put together a hose assembly and install it correctly in order to avoid twisted hoses. This TS standard also looks at how hoses should be correctly rooted and tightened to the right level, and covers other aspects such as inspection frequency, visual inspection, functional tests, age control and storage.

This standard should be fully understood and adhered to because, apart from its relevance concerning the general operational efficiency of the equipment, it can also help to ensure your hydraulic hose installation is installed in a way that minimises any risk of injury due to whipping hoses. If people are able to walk next to the hydraulic system – for example, if the system is installed near a walkway – consideration should be given as to whether some sort of whip restraint is necessary for the hoses. After all, if a failure occurred and a flailing hose hit a passer-by or maintenance engineer, this could become a very serious health & safety matter.

Inspection and maintenance

When carrying out inspection tasks, personnel should never put their hand anywhere near a hydraulic hose to check for leakage. People sometimes put their hand on a hose to check whether it is wet, which could indicate that there is a pinhole leak. However, a fluid injection injury could easily be incurred if pressurised fluid from such a leak makes contact with the inspector’s skin.

It is important always to bear in mind that there are dangers with any equipment kept under pressure. For example, a system that has an accumulator needs to be depressurised before a hydraulic hose is removed before replacement. Naturally, if this is not done, a high-pressure gush of fluid can come out of the system, with the risk of serious injury or death to the personnel carrying out the replacement work.




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