How To Clean Up A Hydraulic Fluid Spill

Tuesday 30th January 2024

Ellen Warren

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A piece of machinery leaking hydraulic fluid

CONTENTS

Hydraulic fluid spills are common accidents in various settings, from residential properties to commercial establishments. These spills can lead to serious environmental issues if improperly contained and cleaned up.

At ICE Cleaning, our oil spill cleaning services include the cleaning and decontamination of gasoline, diesel, and hydraulic fluids. We can tackle spills on hard surfaces like concrete or in areas where soil and water are present, restoring local environments.

Read on to learn more about managing hydraulic fluid spills, from initial response to final disposal practices, ensuring reduced damage.

Understanding hydraulic fluid spills

Hydraulic fluid, commonly known as hydraulic oil, is a critical component in many industrial and residential machines. This high-pressure liquid plays an essential role in various systems like car brakes, lifts, and heavy machinery.

Spillage can occur for several reasons, such as leaks from damaged equipment or seals, improper handling during maintenance tasks or accidental overflow during refilling processes.

Regardless of the cause, immediate attention is required when a spill occurs to minimise potential hazards and environmental impact.

Apart from posing safety risks, including slip-and-fall accidents and fire hazards due to their flammable nature, hydraulic fluid spills also negatively affect our environment. 

If not contained promptly, they can contaminate soil and water sources, causing harm to wildlife. Furthermore, failure to address these spills may lead to legal issues relating to environmental regulations.

Containment strategies for hydraulic fluid spills

In the unfortunate event of a hydraulic fluid spill, immediate action is necessary to prevent further spread and minimise environmental impact. The first step in this process involves containment strategies. Here is how you can effectively contain a hydraulic fluid spill:

  1. Identify the source of the leak or spill.
  2. Place absorbent materials such as oil-only pads, booms, or socks around the perimeter of the spillage area.
  3. If absorbents are not available, create temporary barriers using soil or sandbags.
  4. Contact professionals who specialise in handling hazardous material clean-up.

Prompt response coupled with appropriate containment measures greatly minimises damage caused by hydraulic fluid leaks. Always ensure you have the necessary safety gear, including gloves and protective eyewear, when dealing with such spills.

Absorption techniques for containment

One of the most effective ways to clean up hydraulic fluid spills is by using absorption techniques. These methods involve using absorbent materials that soak up the spilt liquid, making it easier to collect and dispose of.

Selecting the right absorbents

The choice of absorbent will largely depend on where the spill has occurred. For instance, if you are dealing with a spill on a hard surface like concrete or asphalt, we recommend clay-based absorbents for their high absorption capacity.

On the other hand, organic materials like peat moss or sawdust can absorb spills on soil or grassy areas.

Using absorbents effectively

To effectively utilise these absorbents, sprinkle them over and around the edges of your spill until completely covered. This should successfully contain the spill and prevent it from spreading.

Companies should invest in industrial-grade absorbents for oil-based substances such as hydraulic fluids used in businesses. They often come in granulated form and offer superior soaking capabilities, usually found on work sites.

Unless qualified, you must not attempt to clean the spill or dispose of hazardous material. You should leave this task to professional cleaners with the equipment and protective gear to do this safely.

Preventative measures and best practices

The first step towards managing hydraulic fluid spills is prevention. Regular maintenance of your hydraulic systems can significantly reduce the risk of leaks or spills, protecting your property and the environment.

  • Routine maintenance checks: A routine check involves inspecting all components for signs of wear and tear that could lead to a leak. This includes hoses, seals, valves, pumps, cylinders, and other parts. 
  • Proper storage of hydraulic fluids: How you store your hydraulic fluids also plays a crucial role in spill prevention. Seal containers tightly to prevent accidental spillage.
  • Training staff on spill response procedures: If you have employees who work with these systems regularly, they should be trained in proper handling techniques and emergency response procedures.

Environmental considerations and reporting requirements

Hydraulic fluids are typically non-biodegradable and can cause serious harm to both terrestrial and aquatic environments if they enter water bodies or seep into soil. They may contaminate drinking water sources, affect plant growth, harm wildlife, and disrupt ecosystems.

In addition to taking corrective actions on-site, reporting hydraulic fluid spills is important. In the UK, you are legally obliged to report incidents via an online system known as The Environment Agency’s incident hotline.

This allows relevant authorities to accurately assess the situation, ensuring the implementation of proper remediation measures per legal requirements. This reduces the long-term effects on environmental, health, and safety standards in your residential area.

By understanding the environmental implications of hydraulic fluid spills and adhering to reporting requirements, you can significantly protect your local environment from further harm.

Get in touch

For comprehensive oil spill cleaning services, you can rely on the team at ICE Cleaning. We can effectively contain, clean, and decontaminate an area affected by a hydraulic oil spill. We offer emergency cleaning services, aiming to be on-site the same day as your initial call.

To learn more about our various oil spill clean-up services, get in touch with our team today at 0208 066 0360 or enquiries@icecleaning.co.uk. If you require emergency cleaning, request this today and we can be on-site within a few hours. We operate 24/7, 365 days a year.

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Melissa Harrison

Melissa Harrison

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