Hydraulic Systems Safety
Hydraulic systems are popular on many types of agricultural equipment because they reduce the need for complex mechanical linkages and allow remote control of numerous operations. Hydraulic systems are used to lift implements, such as plows; to change the position of implement components, such as a combine header or bulldozer blade; to operate remote hydraulic motors; and to assist steering and braking.
To do their work, hydraulic systems must store fluid under high pressure, typically 2,000 pounds or more per square inch. One hazard comes from removing or adjusting components without releasing the pressure. The fluid, under tremendous pressure, is also hot. The worker then is exposed to three kinds of hazards: burns from hot, high-pressure fluid; bruises, cuts or abrasions from flailing hydraulic lines; and injection of fluid into the skin.
Many systems store hydraulic energy in accumulators. These accumulators are designed to store oil under pressure when the hydraulic pump cannot keep up with demand, when the engine is shut down, or when the hydraulic pump malfunctions. Even though the pump may be stopped or an implement disconnected, the system is still under pressure. To work on the system safely, relieve the pressure first.
by P.D. Ayers
Colorado State University
Extension. 10/92. Reviewed 1/05.