DGUV Information 209-071e - Safe maintenance of hydraulic systems (DGUV Informat...

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Abschnitt 2.1, 2 Handling hydraulic fluid 2.1 Skin protectio...
Abschnitt 2.1
Safe maintenance of hydraulic systems (DGUV Information 209-071)
Titel: Safe maintenance of hydraulic systems (DGUV Information 209-071)
Normgeber: Bund
Amtliche Abkürzung: DGUV Information 209-071
Gliederungs-Nr.: [keine Angabe]
Normtyp: Satzung

Abschnitt 2.1 – 2 Handling hydraulic fluid
2.1 Skin protection

Maintenance technicians for hydraulic systems are used to having "dirty hands" at work. The intensive daily skin cleansing procedure is tolerated apparently without any problems, so that normally, only little thought is given to the question whether the skin - the largest human organ - tolerates this without being damaged in the long run. The alloy components and additives contained in the oils and fats can have allergizing or sensitizing effects.

A lack of consciousness for the aforementioned is one reason why skin diseases range amongst the most frequent work-related diseases in metalworking companies.

The organ skin is the link between the human immune system on the one hand and the "external world" on the other hand. Especially the fats on the external skin layer form an efficient but vulnerable protection against harmful influences. Frequent washing, especially with substances solving the fats, damages this protective layer. If the body is no longer able to repair these damages within the work breaks, the result is dry skin with formation of ruptures and redness, shortly, the "wear eczema". Secondly, often an "allergic eczema" additionally "engrafts" during the further course, as substances potentially causing allergies can intrude into deeper regions of the skin organ more easily if the skin is already damaged. Depending on the personal disposition, such reactions can occur a relative short time upon the first skin exposures or upon many years or decades of executing skin exposing activities.

If a work-related allergic skin disease has established, the consequences - professional and private - are often serious. As contact with substances causing allergies normally cannot be prevented completely, losing the job is possible.


Fig. 4
Sample of operating instructions for hydraulic oil

What can be done?

There are many options for maintaining a mostly healthy skin even during strongly contaminating activities. Firstly, the most important precondition is that everybody develops the proper understanding for the vulnerability of his or her own skin.

The entrepreneur is responsible for regulating skin protection within the company, e. g. using a skin protection scheme (see figure 4). In doing so, specialists (company physician, supervisor) should be integrated and corporate experience should be taken into consideration.

2.1.1 Work clothes

No special protective clothes are specified for the maintenance technician for hydraulic systems. Work clothing worn and contaminated in addition to or to protect the private clothes have to be cleansed on a regular basis. There should be at least two, better three overalls for every maintenance technician, in order to provide for immediate replacement even in case of unforeseeable contaminations with hydraulic fluids.

string Note
Contaminated clothes have to be taken off immediately.
Contaminated cleaning rags must not be put into the trousers.

Naturally, the hands have the most intensive contact with the possibly harmful substances. Appropriate protective gloves provide best protection (see figure 5). Appropriate means that they are especially resistant regarding the substances they are supposed to protect against. For handling hydraulic, machine, motor, and transmission oils, gloves consisting of the following materials are considered appropriate:

  • acrylonitrile butadiene, rubber, nitrile rubber, nitrile latex (NBR),

  • chloroprene rubber (neoprene) (CR),

  • isobutylene isopropene rubber (rubber) = butyl rubber, butyl (IIR).


Fig. 5
Personal protective equipment for oil change

Different tasks for maintenance works require the normal protective clothes to be supplemented, e. g.

  • overhead works: gloves with cuffs,

  • troubleshooting and leakage tests: helmet with visor,

  • component replacement: one-way trousers type 4.

string Note
No gloves must be worn in the vicinity of rotating parts.

2.1.2 Skin agents

This generic term comprises:

  • skin protection agents,

  • skin cleansing agents, and

  • skin care agents.

The harmful substances to be expected are substances insoluble in water. Some statutory accident insurers and skin care agent manufacturers developed skin protection schemes differing in content and color in dependency on the effects of individual harmful substances. The yellow skin protection scheme, shown in figure 6, lists a selection of appropriate skin protection agents, skin cleansing agents, and skin care agents to be used in case of contact with substances insoluble in water.

Basically, the objective should be to clean the skin as gently as possible, as well as to provide the skin especially with fat and moisture after work, along with the appropriate skin protection agent. Using appropriate skin protection agents or protective gloves as consequently as possible reduces or prevents contamination of the skin and thus allows for using more gentle skin cleansing agents.


Fig. 6
Skin protection and hygiene scheme

2.1.3 Use of skin agents

Skin agents can only achieve the desired success if all three skin agents (skin protection, skin cleansing, and skin care agents) are used

  • on a regular basis (daily, before starting to work, before and after breaks, and after work), and

  • properly (see manufacturer’s instructions).