Invented in the 1830s by British entrepreneur Joseph Curtis, a hydraulic jack is a mechanical tool that's used to lift and raise loads via pressurized oil. When you pump the plunger, oil is fed into a cylinder, which pressurizes the hydraulic jack so that it can lift and raise heavy loads. Whether you use it in your garage to repair your vehicle or in your business's workplace to lift materials, though, you should follow some basic safety tips when using a hydraulic press to protect against injury.
Check the Jack's Load Capacity
Before using a hydraulic jack, check its load capacity. This is the maximum amount of weight that the jack can safely lift and raise. Some hydraulic jacks have a load capacity of 1,000 pounds, while others can support up to 7,000 pounds. Regardless, you should never overburden a hydraulic jack with loads greater than its load capacity.
Don't Walk or Crawl Under a Hydraulic Jack
I know this probably sounds like common sense, but it's still worth mentioning that you should never walk or crawl under a hydraulic jack while it's supporting a load. Even if the load weighs less than the jack's load capacity, there's always the potential for failure. And if you are underneath the jack when it fails, the load may fall on you, potentially causing serious injury. When a hydraulic jack is supporting a load, keep the area underneath it clear at all times.
Change the Oil Regularly
Hydraulic jacks don't require much time or work to maintain, but there's still one essential maintenance task that you shouldn't overlook: changing the oil. All hydraulic jacks contain oil, which is used to create pressure. Over time, however, this oil will degrade and its performance will decrease. You can learn more about when and how to change your hydraulic jack's oil by reading the instruction manual. With that said, most manufacturers recommend changing the oil at least once every three years.
Personal protective equipment (PPE) is essential when using a hydraulic jack. While the exact forms of PPE vary depending on the specific type of hydraulic jack and how it's used, you should typically wear impact-resistant goggles, steel-toe boots and gloves.
Lift Using Jack Points
You shouldn't use a hydraulic jack to lift and raise a load from just any location. Rather, you should lift it from the load's jack points. Jack points, also known as lifting points, are designed to withstand heavy weight. Using a hydraulic jack anywhere else on the load could result in the load breaking.