Practical Advice on Controlling Hazardous Hydraulic Energy

Instrumentation Equipment Piping and MeterWhether it’s a piece of industrial equipment on a factory floor or mobile construction machinery on a jobsite, unexpected machine motion can lead to catastrophic consequences. A machine hazard cannot be considered safe until all sources of hazardous energy are isolated. That includes fluid power.

“Over my 20-plus years spent designing and reviewing different types of machinery, I’ve noticed that fluid power is not always considered when evaluating the overall safety of a machine,” says Jenny Tuertscher, Vice President of Safety Services at Fortress Safety, a manufacturer of machine safety products. “Through the consulting and training services we offer, we strive to help engineers, safety managers, and executives understand the importance of safety around the fluid power system.”

Regulations drive standards, and standards drive solutions

If a fluid power system experiences a sudden loss of pressure, the unexpected transmission of energy can initiate the unexpected movement of a machine. Machine design, energy isolation devices, and other control methods must be deliberate to mitigate the risks.

“Discussions about hazardous energy control always start with the standards and regulations that exist,” says Rob Johnson, Technical Director at Fortress Safety. “But all of that academic knowledge doesn’t do much good if people aren’t given some practical application for it. That’s why we like to look at what the requirements are, along with what can be done to make machines better, safer, and more efficient.”

Tuertscher and Johnson will be presenting Fluid Power and Machinery Safety Working Together from 2:15 to 3 p.m. on Thursday, March 16 at The International Fluid Power Exposition (IFPE) in Las Vegas.

“We’ll talk about OSHA requirements for dissipating fluid energy,” Tuertscher says. “We’ll get into the different instances where alternative methods of hazardous energy control could be used. We’ll also talk about the important standards that exist, such as ANSI/ASSP Z244.1 and the B11 series, while also helping attendees understand how to go about using those standards to design a fluid power system that keeps people safe.”

To that point, Tuertscher and Johnson will be offering some real-life examples of how hazardous fluid power energy can be controlled using a variety of proven methods. For instance, Tuertscher relates to her vast experience working with cranes, specifically the hydraulic system on the lift mechanism.

“In order to perform service work on one of those systems, you need to completely isolate the hazardous energy so the lifting mechanism cannot move under any circumstance,” Tuertscher explains. “You need confidence that the valves will truly close and remain closed, while also dissipating the energy back to the storage tank. So understanding valve ratings are very important.

“There is one other thing to think about when it comes to cranes,” Tuertscher continues. “Sometimes when performing maintenance, you need the ability to move the lift mechanism. Having the right controls in place so the user can only activate the lift mechanism at the right time and in the right situation becomes extremely important to the overall design of the crane system, as well as the procedures established to operate it.”

Tuertscher and Johnson will be offering other specific examples during their IFPE educational session. But as Johnson points out, the same principles of hazardous fluid power energy control are the same whether you’re talking about a crane, excavator, loader, or other pieces of machinery. The key is taking those principles and applying them to a deliberate strategy.

About the speakers

Jenny TuertscherJenny Tuertscher and Rob Johnson are both engineers by trade.

Tuertscher has both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in mechanical engineering with an emphasis on automation, robotics, and mechatronics. She spent 22 years designing machines and reviewing machine designs in many applications around the world, all of which had pneumatic systems and some of which had hydraulics.

Tuertscher has been with Fortress Safety for the past couple of years. She helps clients gain a better understanding of standards and regulations surrounding hazardous energy control in machinery. In fact, she says that has become her passion. “I have seen far too many near misses where fluid power systems have led to potentially catastrophic events” Tuertscher relates.

Rob Johnson headshotJohnson has a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and is a chartered engineer in the United Kingdom. He leads Fortress Safety’s development team that works with the engineering team to develop new safety products. In the past, Johnson helped lead the company’s expansion into electrical energy control. Now he works closely with machinery safety standards, how they apply to the products Fortress Safety offers, and how Fortress Safety can integrate those products into safety systems for their customers.

Additionally, both Tuertscher and Johnson do a lot of work on safety system standardization and serve on various standards committees. They are also central to the training offered by Fortress Safety, which includes a standard B11 LMSS™ (licensed machinery safety specialist) course as well as customized training based on organizational needs.


Co-located within CONEXPO-CON/AGG, IFPE provides an unmatched opportunity to harness the power of in-person connection. Engineers can meet with potential partners to discuss processes for streamlining the integration of sensors with hydraulic systems, all with the latest innovations in fluid power at their fingertips.

Learn more about the show and the endless possibilities that come with collaboration on the front lines of fluid power. Take advantage of discounted rates available and register for IFPE 2023 today


IFPE’s comprehensive education program is the leading source for executives, engineers, manufacturing plant and operation leads, technicians, mechanics, and other fluid power professionals covering the latest technical topics and trends. Click here for more information.


Mark your calendar for IFPE, March 14-18, 2023, at the Las Vegas Convention Center, and take advantage of discounted rates available and register for IFPE 2023 today