27 June 2024

Hydraulic Fluid Dangers: Understanding Risks and Safety Measures

Hydraulic fluid dangers

Hydraulic fluids are specialized liquids used to transmit power and control in hydraulic systems by converting mechanical energy into pressure and enabling the movement of actuators like cylinders and motors; this principle finds application in a lot of different industries (Automotive, Aerospace, Marine, Construction, Agriculture, Die Casting, Metalworking, etc.). These fluids come in different types, each designed for specific applications.

The use of hydraulic fluids under pressure is associated with several hydraulic fluid dangers, whose impact can be minimized through the choice of high-quality products and the careful observance of precautions for use.


Types of hydraulic fluids and their dangers

The most common types are: Mineral-Based fluids (widely used due to their affordable cost and high quality), Water-Based fluids (used in applications where fire resistance is crucial), Synthetic fluids (used where extreme temperatures or fire hazards are present) and Bio-Based fluids (used in environmentally sensitive areas).

All of them must be used carefully, taking into consideration the serious hazards that can affect both the operators and the environment in case of sudden leaks of fluids under pressure. Here's a list of potentially lethal consequences deriving from leaks:

  • Fire and explosions, caused by the contact with ignition sources.
  • Sudden and massive loss of pressure in hydraulic systems, which can lead to catastrophic collapse effects.
  • Severe skin burns.
  • Hydraulic injection injuries.
  • Inhalation of toxic fumes.
  • Environmental damages.


Health and environmental risks

Skin burns provoked by contact with a hot fluid are for sure painful and potentially disfiguring and disabling but aren’t necessarily the worst consequences .

Despite appearing sometimes benign at the beginning, hydraulic oil injection injuries are in fact insidious and potentially devastating, requiring prompt medical attention to prevent serious and potentially life-threatening complications. Hydraulic fluids contain indeed toxic chemicals capable of killing human tissues and causing bacterial infections as well as blood poisoning.

Further, leaking hydraulic fluids (especially petroleum-based and synthetic fluids) can seep into the soil and contaminate groundwater. This can harm plant life, animals and marine life getting in contact with polluted soil or water.


How Faster's Hydraulic Quick Coupler solutions prevent fluid risks 

Risks associated with the use of fluids under pressure can be even higher when operating at the interface between a power unit and hydraulic actuators, connecting or disconnecting the latter by means of quick couplings.  

No matter the product series, Faster design standards are certainly among the strictest on the market with regard to safety factors, meeting or exceeding the ones set by International Standards; leaks of oil under pressure deriving from the collapse of one component of a quick release coupling are therefore definitely an unlikely event.

Leaks could occur however in case an operator tries - intentionally or not - to disconnect the coupling without shutting off pressure in the circuit first; Faster’s range include various design cautions that help to prevent this event:

  • Locking sleeve (collar) assembled on all of the couplers compliant with ISO 16028 std: locking the coupling in coupled condition reduces the probability of accidental disconnection.
  • Additional collar: the presence of a safety sleeve on product series suitable for heavy-duty applications (FHV), ultra-high pressure ones (UHP), or other ones (CVLS, SV, VFS, RFLS) avoids any improper use from operators.
  • Hydraulic locking mechanism: systems preventing the coupler disconnection in presence of pressure can be purposely designed for specific applications where safety is a critical factor (one example is VFB series locking mechanism); disconnecting without pressure is always a safe operation.


In short, hydraulic fluids under pressure pose significant health and environmental hazards due to their chemical composition and the conditions under which they are used. Proper precautions, use of high quality products and the adoption of safety measures are essential to mitigate these risks.