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The dangers of contaminated hydraulic fluid

platform, heights, hydraulic fluid

WorkSafe has advised caution following the uncontrolled movement of an elevating work platform, believed to be caused by contaminated hydraulic fluid.

Elevating work platforms are deigned to lift and lower workers to enable access to work at heights.

In the present case, the mechanisms responsible for adjusting the height and tilt of the platform were compromised. Fortunately, no workers were injured.

According to the safety watchdog, this is not an isolated occurrence.

Hydraulic fluids provide energy transmission and lubrication to a machine. However, these fluids can become contaminated in dusty and dirty mining environments.

Contamination most commonly occurs during field maintenance, where incorrect oil might be used, or dirt, metal fragments, and other contaminants can enter the hydraulic system.

Incorrect storage of hydraulic components can also cause contamination.

Inside a machine, these contaminants can cause wear and tear, increased maintenance costs, corrosion, reduced lubrication and even equipment failure.

WorkSafe has called for caution when conducting maintenance, inspection, and testing of elevating work platforms. This should always be done by a competent person in accordance with manufacturer or supplier guidelines.

The watchdog also emphasised the importance of conducting maintenance and storing components in a clean, dust free environment.

Another of other recommendations were also made, including:

  • Contact the manufacturer or supplier for any improvements or changes to the inspection and maintenance requirements
  • Only remove component packaging just prior to fitting and leave hose caps on until necessary to remove
  • Ensure hydraulic hoses and components are free from contaminants prior to fitting.

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