3. Service technicians need to be aware that hydraulic fluid is under pressure and the dangers associated with it. Because hydraulic systems can build up pressures as high as 3,000 psi, service technicians should take precautions when working around high-pressure hydraulic lines to avoid injury from these high pressures, Peterson says. Protective clothing, such as gloves and safety glasses, should always be worn.
“When loosening hydraulic fittings, a good practice is to rotate the fitting in 1/8 turn increments until fluid is just beginning to drip, and then allow the pressure to be relieved before continuing the 1/8 turn procedure,” he advises. “When reconnecting fittings, it is a good practice to stay back from the work area as the hydraulic system is re-energized until technicians are sure the fittings are properly secured and not leaking.”
Caution should also be taken when working with drills, grinders, torches, etc., in and around hydraulic lines due to the high pressures and potential flash points of some hydraulic fluids.
4. Disconnect ground strap on batteries. Whenever working on liftgates - regardless of whether it’s an electrical, mechanical or hydraulic repair, it is a good practice to disconnect the ground strap on the batteries to cut power to the electrical system, says Peterson. “Do not rely on the shut off switch inside the cab of the vehicle or in the pump box. In many cases, these only turn off power to the switches, not the power to the pump and motor.
“Failure to disconnect power to the system can result in accidental activation of the liftgate, electrical burns or damage to electrical components on the liftgate.”
5. Activate vehicle four-way lights and place reflectors before working on a disabled vehicle on the roadside. Roadside repairs pose their own set of hazards due to the fact that there are moving vehicles in the area, he says. The best practice is to secure the liftgate in an up-and-stored position, and move the vehicle off the side of the road to an area where the repairs can be made in a safe environment.
When this is not possible, all precautions should be taken, such as activating the four-way flashers and marker lights on the vehicle, and placing flares or reflective cones around the vehicle to warn oncoming traffic. When using flares, keep them far enough away from the vehicle to avoid the potential ignition of any fluids that may have leaked from the vehicle.
Avoid the rear and roadside of the vehicle as much as possible and work only on the non-roadside of the vehicle, he adds. Service technicians should wear reflective clothing to give oncoming traffic as much warning as possible of their presence.
6. Thoroughly read and understand the liftgate manufactures owner’s manual and guides. Liftgate manufactures typically provide owner’s manuals which contain important information on operation, maintenance and safety when using and maintaining their products.
These documents should be kept on file at the fleet’s maintenance facilities and in any service vehicles that will be used to make service calls, Peterson says. It is also a good practice to place a copy inside the cab of the truck for reference when needed.
Don’t be hesitant about contacting liftgate manufacturers and their local distributors for assistance in maintaining and servicing your fleet’s liftgates, or with questions about warranty, concur SAF-Holland’s Peterson, Leyman Liftgates’ Neiberding and Tommy Gate’s Boe.
“Most customer service departments are eager to be as helpful as possible,” Boe says.
“Many liftgate manufacturers are able to provide training on routine maintenance, diagnostics, repair and safety precautions to use when working on their products,” adds Peterson. “In addition, most liftgate manufacturers offer owner’s manuals, maintenance guides and technical bulletins online that provide valuable service and safety information.”