This came to me recently from one of my Hydraulics Pro Club members:
“I had a little accident at work last week with hydraulic fluid. Yes I came off second best. And it was just after you sent that email about the operator’s hand (oil injection injury) from the blown hose – nasty!
There was a colleague working with me and we had just replaced a main hose to an accumulator on a 30 tonne fork lift. We had started the machine and tested the park brake. To our surprise it would not release. So we checked it over and the spool valve had jammed. The hose I had replaced must not have been blown out by the hose doctor, so I started to remove the valve – as asked to by my mate who had many years experience as a fitter. I questioned him about the stored fluid upstream of the valve I was about to remove but he assured me it was OK.
I undid the valve undoing the front first thinking I should be undoing the back. So then I started undoing the back waiting for a bit of fluid to pass, then all of a sudden BANG!!!
High pressure fluid (approx 3000 psi) straight into my forehead. Suffering a large graze and showered in oil. Luckily just missing my eyes as I did not have my safety glasses on which I always wear when working on anything, but not expecting what was going to happen.
Once I cleaned myself up, I went to the doctor. The doctor had no idea what oil injection was or how dangerous it can be. He did not believe the graze was from the oil. He thought that I fell and hit my head. I contacted our oil company and they recommended I see another doctor. They also sent out a protocol on how to treat minor and major injection injuries. It just shows how you can’t let your guard down. I was very lucky this time.”
VERY lucky indeed! And as this story shows, more often than not, it’s complacency that maims and kills, rather than outright ignorance. He was aware of the hazards.
It’s best to ALWAYS assume a system is pressurized BEFORE you start working on it. And boy, if it’s got an accumulator anywhere, an “EXTRA CAUTION REQUIRED” siren should be going off in your head.
But the main takeaway from this which I want to share with you (and you should in turn share with all your colleagues) is the management of oil injection injuries. And here’s why:
“The doctor had no idea what oil injection was or how dangerous it can be. He did not believe the graze was from the oil.”
Make no mistake: fluid injection injuries are medical emergencies. And failure to act appropriately may result in death of patient, or the need to amputate the affected limb. Furthermore, the injury sustained in a high pressure injection incident is usually worse than it will first appear. These injuries typically involve pressures well in excess of 1500 PSI, punching a hole in the skin and soft tissue. After the initial injection, the fluid travels in a narrow stream until a structure of sufficient density (i.e., muscle or bone) is encountered. The fluid then rapidly disperses in all directions. Surgical intervention is usually required to release the injected fluid and minimize the damage to surrounding tissue.
I hope you never come across such an injury. But if you do, awareness – and swift medical intervention are paramount.
To discover six costly mistakes you want to be sure to avoid with your hydraulic equipment, get “Six Costly Mistakes Most Hydraulics Users Make… And How You Can Avoid Them!” available for FREE download here.