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HSE SAFETY ALERT: TRACK TENSIONING INCIDENT

hselogo1Workman died from hydraulic injection injury whilst tensioning track

HSE has issued Safety Alert STSU 2-2017 to raise awareness of the risks from reuse of hydraulic components that have become detached whilst under pressure.

The Regulator states:

“Do not refit/reuse hydraulic components that have detached from the hydraulic system under pressure. An operative died from hydraulic injection injury sustained whilst tensioning the track of an item of construction plant. The grease nipple became detached from the track adjustment mechanism permitting the release of grease under high pressure. This alert reminds those involved in the adjustment and maintenance of hydraulic machinery of the potential for such injury during this type of work.”

Action Required

HSE sets out the action required in detail as follows:

  1. “Track tension on tracked plant must be kept within the limits set by the manufacturer.  Track that loses tension repeatedly must not be over-tensioned to compensate.  The cause of repeat loss of tension must be investigated by a competent person (eg experienced plant fitter) to identify and rectify the root cause.  If necessary assistance should be sought from the manufacturer or their local representative.
  2. While tracked machinery is being operated, the hatch covers which provide access to the track tensioning grease nipple must be in place and secured in line with the manufacturer’s instructions.
  3. The tracks, including the chain, should be cleaned on a daily basis, and the tracks, rollers, idler wheel and sprocket on each side of the vehicle should be visually checked, as far as possible, and any trapped debris removed.  The tracks must not be parked up standing in wet concrete.
  4. Tensioning of tracks on tracked plant should only be carried out by a person who has received training in how to correctly do this.  The training should include how to identify faults and who to report them to.  Each time track tensioning is carried out an entry should be made in the operators’ inspection and maintenance log kept with the machine. The reason for any need for excessive adjustment should be assessed by a person competent to do so.
  5. When tensioning the tracks on vehicles where the grease nipple is perpendicular to the tensioner cylinder (ie where the axis of the nipple and/or any other parts of the tensioner assembly is pointing toward the grease gun operator), as a precaution the operator must ensure they are not positioned in front of or in-line with the nipple.  This is so as to avoid injury should it break free of the tensioner assembly.  On vulnerable machines, if the manufacturer provides a retrofit cover that allows the grease nipple to be permanently shielded this should be installed.
  6. If a hydraulic component is ejected, the component must not be re-used, since it is likely to have sustained damage during such an event.  Where a threaded component has detached, both the male and female thread involved must be scrapped and not reused.  Partially stripped threads may not appear visibly damaged but will be unable to sustain their design load/pressure.  The integrity of the union between any replacement components and the assembly must be verified by a competent person.  If there is any doubt, seek advice/guidance from the original equipment manufacturer or supplier.  Scrapped components should be destroyed to prevent inadvertent reuse.”

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