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BBC news: worker loses hand after he was injured with faulty hydraulic cutting gear

What happened?

A firefighter whose hand was amputated after he was injured by faulty cutting gear has received £1.5m in damages.  He was working with hydraulic cutting equipment on a training exercise when his hand was pierced by a high-pressure jet of hydraulic fluid.  See

It was only later that day he noticed his hand starting to swell and he began to feel a burning sensation.  There was a small puncture wound through the side of his hand.  He noted that one of his colleagues looked at the glove he had been wearing at the time and there was a hole straight through it.

He subsequently had 40 operations after the hydraulic fluid destroyed the tissue in his right hand, but after a four-year battle doctors were forced to amputate.

What went wrong?

The hose pipe connecting the hydraulic pump (which worked at up to 850 bar of pressure) to the cutting gear was riddled with tiny punctures which can appear over time after the hose has been dragged over broken glass or metal shards at the scene of an incident.  One of these punctures caused a fine jet of hydraulic fluid to escape and pierce the leather safety gloves worn by the injured person.

This incident has been circulated as part of a safety flash as nearly all IMCA members use hydraulic equipment, and incidents of this sort have been seen amongst our members.

Members may wish to refer to:

  • Hand injury: Injection of hydraulic fluid (2009)
    • “This incident serves as a timely reminder to maintain vigilance and awareness of the very serious potential hazards and risks associated with working with pressurised hydraulic fluid.”
  • Hydraulic injection injuries (2014)
    • “Someone died as a result of a hydraulic injection injury sustained whilst tensioning the track of a piling rig. A grease nipple became detached from the track mechanism permitting the release of grease under high pressure.”
  • Stored pressure release – hydraulic oil (2015)
    • “There was an unexpected high pressure oil discharge causing injury to someone’s left hand.”

Safety Event

Published: 17 September 2019
Download: IMCA SF 22/19

Relevant life-saving rules:
IMCA Safety Flashes
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IMCA Safety Flashes summarise key safety matters and incidents, allowing lessons to be more easily learnt for the benefit of all. The effectiveness of the IMCA Safety Flash system depends on Members sharing information and so avoiding repeat incidents. Please consider adding [email protected] to your internal distribution list for safety alerts or manually submitting information on incidents you consider may be relevant. All information is anonymised or sanitised, as appropriate.

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