Hydraulic accident

Make sure YOU know the 'animal' you're dealing with

On September 4, 2006 Steve Irwin, also know as "The Crocodile Hunter", lost his life in a freak accident.

He was the blonde Australian guy you may have seen on Discovery Channel or Animal Planet, wrestling crocodiles or hugging sharks. One report said he was known to 500 million people around the world.

Steve was snorkelling will bull rays, in waters off Northern Australia. These 250 pound (100 kg) beasts, with wing spans of three feet (1 meter) or more are not normally aggressive to man.

Apparently though, one of these sting rays, feeling threatened by the close attention of Steve and his cameraman, turned and struck-out, plunging its 8-inch (20 cm) long, venomous barb into Steve's chest. All attempts to revive him were in vain.

It's a reminder of brevity of life. It is also a reminder that we should know the 'animal' we are dealing with. Consider this report on a freak hydraulics accident I came across recently:

An operator was using a high-pressure hydraulic tool, when the hose ruptured at the ferrule. As a result, high-pressure fluid came into contact with the operator's hand.

On presenting at Emergency, the initial prognosis was "keep clean and rest". By chance, a specialist doctor observed and intervened.

The mineral oil had already started to "eat away" fatty tissues in the hand and was travelling up the arm. The injured person had five operations to cut away oil deposits and at one point faced the prospect of losing his arm.

To fully appreciate the damage that hydraulic fluid under pressure can cause, you need see this photo of the injury. If you are squeamish, BE WARNED it is very graphic.

Steve Irwin was a professional. He would have known what he was dealing with. Make sure you know the 'beast' you're dealing with. Educate yourself. Make full use of the resources available to you at www.hydraulicsupermarket.com And if you ever have any doubts when working on hydraulic equipment, consult a qualified engineer or technician.

If you have friends or colleagues who work with hydraulics, you'll be doing them a good turn by passing this along to them.

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