Everyone knows the importance of hydraulic fluids in a hydraulic system. They are necessary for transferring power, lubricating components, and providing sealing. Without a hydraulic fluid, you can’t able to run a hydraulic system properly. Almost, every industry uses some applications of hydraulics.
There are different types of hydraulic fluids with varying characteristics. Generally, they are classified into synthetic and mineral oils based on the process of formation. Mineral oil is obtained from crude oils and synthetic oils are prepared from the laboratory.
Is hydraulic fluid dangerous? We can consider hydraulic fluids as harmless until it is pressurized. But, the chemical components present in the hydraulic components can cause allergic reactions and irritation to workers. Also, you can find some symbol labellings on hydraulic products. The symbols like Xn indicate hazardous and Xi indicate irritant.
Also Read: Is Hydraulic Fluid Flammable?
The possibilities for physical contact with these hydraulic fluids are rare. Because almost every application uses an enclosed system for storing and transferring hydraulic fluid. The chances for physical contact arises only while filling process, maintenance work, due to leakage and overheating of fluids. We can prevent severe health and safety hazards by emphasizing proper safety precautions like
- Using protective equipment like eyewear, gloves and protective clothing
- Providing proper ventilation
- Following good personal hygiene procedures
- Keeping fluids in tightly closed containers
- Beware of slippery floors and surfaces
Now we can summarize the effects of hydraulic fluids on skin, eyes and effects due to inhalation and ingestion.
Also, Read: Hydraulic Fluid Properties
Hydraulic Fluid on Skin
Skin contact is a common form of exposure to hydraulic fluid. Contact with pressurized hydraulic fluid due to leakages will cause burns. Also, prolonged continuous contact of non-pressurized hydraulic fluids in the skin will also cause irritation, redness, dermatitis, eczema and serious disease like skin cancer. These effects are due to the tendency of the hydraulic fluid to leach natural fat from the skin. The first aid you need to take is to remove the contaminated cloth immediately and clean the exposed area with water and soap. Also, Special barrier creams are available for protecting the skin.
Hydraulic Fluid in Eyes
Eye contact to hydraulic fluid will become a serious problem if proper care is not provided. It will cause irritation, extreme pain and in some cases permanent injury. Use eyewear while working with hydraulic fluids. The immediate treatment recommended is to clean the eyes with cold water for 10 minutes. Also, remove any contact lenses and open eyelids wide apart. Consult a doctor immediately if the irritation persists.
Ingestion of Hydraulic Fluid
The possibilities for hydraulic fluid ingestion is less. Also, a small amount of hydraulic fluid(not all fluids) ingestion won’t create any health issues. But, sometimes it will cause stomach pain, vomiting, nausea, headache, dizziness and intoxication. Also, it will cause irritation for mouth, throat and oesophagus. Don’t attempt to induce vomiting after swallowing hydraulic fluids. This will result in drawing the fluid down into the lungs. Consult a doctor immediately if the hazard labelled products are swallowed.
Inhalation of Hydraulic Fluid
Up to a measurable degree, the inhalation won’t cause any health issues. But after that limit, it will irritate mucous membranes in the throat and respiratory organs. It may cause asthma-like shortness of breath, headache, fatigue, dizziness and nausea. This will be a result of overheating of hydraulic fluids. Seek medical advice if the discomfort persists.