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Safety Alert: Blown Hose Drenches Worker With Hydraulic Fluid

A large stream of hot hydraulic fluid shot up from between a harvester hose clamps and flipped the operator backwards off the machine and drenched him (including his eyes and mouth).

By Staff
Date Posted: 6/1/2010


            On a hot, sunny, fall afternoon in the Appalachians, a harvester operator was attempting to fix a slow leak around the fitting on a hydraulic hose.

Personal Characteristics

            The 60-year-old operator had over 40 years of experience working with heavy equipment and logging machines. However, he had less than one month of experience with the harvester he was operating.

Unsafe Act or Condition

            The leaking hydraulic hose fitting was located in front of the machine’s cab and at the base of the crane. The hose was held on by a split-style clamp that was tightened by four bolts. The operator had experienced problems tightening this clamp (because he had put a hose with the wrong fitting on the machine) and he substituted a larger O-ring on the fitting to minimize the leaking. The operator continued to work until the chain came off at the head. He exited the cab, climbed on to the crane base, and reached down and attempted to move the hose around with the hope of exposing the leak’s location.


            As soon as he grabbed the hose, a large stream of hydraulic fluid shot up from between the hose clamps. The force of the fluid flipped the operator backwards off the machine and drenched him (including his eyes and mouth) with hot hydraulic fluid.


            The hydraulic fluid, although still hot, had cooled sufficiently so that the operator did not suffer any significant burns. He was able to clean the hydraulic fluid from his mouth and eyes successfully. Fortunately, when he was thrown off the machine, he landed onto a heavy debris mat that was built up from the pine limbs that the machine had left behind. This mat cushioned his fall.

Recommendations For Correction

            When making and replacing a hose, be sure to use the proper hose size and fittings. Never try to improvise and replace a part on a hydraulic hose with a part that did not come with the hose. Always properly disengage the logging machine and release all stored energy before working on hydraulic lines. Follow the equipment manufacturer’s directions for safely and properly repairing or changing hydraulic lines. Wear eye protection. Never put yourself or a body part anywhere near a damaged hydraulic line or fitting while it is under pressure. In this case, the hydraulic system blew oil under about 4500 psi of pressure onto the operator. Be sure to seek immediate medical attention for any injury resulting from hydraulic fluid under pressure, regardless of how minor the injury may appear.

Source: Forest Resources Association








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