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Remote control lubrication

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A new development in lubrication systems is helping to cut the risk of high pressure grease injection injuries on site.

According to the Fluid Power Safety Institute “more than 99 per cent of people who service, repair, and troubleshoot hydraulic systems have been subjected to the exact dynamics that trigger a high-pressure injection injury”.

“If ‘hydraulics’ were a recognised occupational hazard, and thus fell into a category for near-miss reporting we would be at catastrophic levels.”

Currently grease is the most common fluid in injection injuries in mining, with one in four of the incidents requiring amputation, and if the pressure is above 7000 psi, this ratio becomes 100 per cent.

However these injuries have known to occur at pressures as low as 100 psi.

According to Parker Hannifin “pressurised fluids travel at bullet speed and can penetrate deep under the skin.

“The injured person may feel only a slight ‘electric shock’ or pricking sensation. Rarely does the initial pain indicate the actual severity of the injury. What looks like a simple puncture wound is, in fact, life threatening.”

The Queensland engineering company, Australian Diversified Engineering (ADE), have developed a remote pressure release system that allows an operator to attach or remove a blocked grease gun without the risk of an injection injury.

According to the company it aimed “to find a simple, cost-effective solution that could be quickly activated should pressure begun building in a blocked grease gun”.

Its solution was a “garage-door style remote control that would safely release the pressure in the hose”.

“Our research revealed that the usual protective equipment was not protecting serviceman from high pressure injection juries, and the standard process of removing the hose from the nipple in the case of blockages was intrinsically flawed and dangerous,” ADE manufacturing manager Daniel Kirk said.

The new system uses remote operated wireless transmitters that can be activated 50 metres from the service truck to release the build-up of pressure, can be retrofitted to existing systems, and has already been installed at nine mines across Australia.

It is contained in a small stainless steel cabinet mounted on top of service trucks or near the grease pumps, with a single function remote to turn off pressure to high volume and high pressure grease lubrication systems.

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