Ensuring hydraulic health and safety

Hydraulic machinery has vital roles to play in many facets of modern life. From transport and logistics to construction and food processing, hydraulic-powered machinery often acts as the backbone to getting jobs done efficiently and repeatedly. In 2022/23, the HSE reported that 561,000 people sustained an injury in the workplace. Given the complexity involving this type of machinery, for those who work with hydraulics, prioritising the safety of not just the system’s operations, but the well-being and safety of those involved is of the utmost importance. The following top tips will help ensure the health and safety of those who work with hydraulics is always a priority.

Enforce routine inspections and high standards

Given the numerous industries that utilise hydraulics, the machinery and hydraulic hoses can face extreme pressures and strain. Although these components are designed to be durable, they are fallible, and they can sustain damage and degrade over time.

In times where budgets are coming under increasing scrutiny, there can be a tendency for businesses with limited knowledge of hydraulic safety to opt for a DIY fix or ‘re-ending’; where the last few inches of the hose is cut off and replaced with new fittings to artificially extend its life. However, the British Fluid Power Association (BFPA) strongly discourages the practise of re-ending because of the potential consequences.

Mobile Service Technicians (MSTs) from the British Fluid Power Distributors Association (BFPDA) accredited suppliers can carry out regular hydraulic maintenance and servicing to ensure that hydraulic failures are prevented, and that any damaged or degrading hose is replaced with new, safe and compatible components. It is essential that members of the hydraulics community promote the very highest standards to all customers and highlight the dangers associated with DIY fixes. The message is simple: enlist the support of qualified experts to conduct and carry out every single job involving hydraulic hoses and machinery.

Ensuring the physical and mental wellbeing of MSTs is looked after

MSTs are Pirtek’s first-responders in the event a machine using hydraulics goes down. And for those on the frontline, working with heavy hydraulic machinery and the associated fluids is a dangerous occupation. High temperatures, high pressures and confined spaces can make replacing hydraulic hoses a dangerous job.

Additionally, MSTs will often spend much of their time working alone, which can have an impact on their mental health with the British Occupational Health Research Foundation finding that 64% of ‘lone workers’ face a level of psychological distress. It’s therefore essential that businesses who operate services like this commit to a duty of care to those who work every day, often alone, with hydraulic machinery and hoses. This can help ensure that correct assessments are conducted for those technicians who routinely work alone, and steps can be implemented to control any risks they might face in their line of work.

Going above and beyond for Health & Safety with Pirtek UK

Martyn Smart, QHSE Manager at Pirtek UK&IRE says, “At Pirtek, our team of MSTs understand the vital importance and daily requirements in order to be compliant with the health and safety standards that are expected to be followed to the letter. They take the time to properly risk-asses every site before any job is conducted. For new and upcoming MSTs that join the business, we undertake training and inductions to ensure that, when they enter the field, they are armed with the knowledge and expertise to correctly complete work without fear of serious injury.”

Every new MST that joins Pirtek undergoes the City and Guilds-assured health and safety induction at the company’s National Training Centre (NTC) in Birmingham which extensively covers health and safety ensuring it is a primary focus. Additionally, the NTC offers access to Pirtek UK’s comprehensive health and safety training in two specific courses (‘Foundation Course in Hydraulic Systems’ and ‘Hydraulic Safety Awareness’) to help bolster MST’s awareness and abilities to work with hydraulic machinery and hoses safely.

Undergoing regular hydraulic maintenance and servicing from a provider who have technicians with the knowledge, experience and safety credentials will ensure the smooth running of any organisation and will create an environment for safe and efficient hydraulic hose care.

Find out more about the training courses we offer here.