April - May Mag Issue 25 Paperturn - Page 20



NEWS
AIR SUSPENSION SYSTEMS ON VEHICLES
failed. Causes of the incidents
have included;
Work being carried out on
vehicles supported by the air
suspension system and the
airbags have catastrophically
failed.
Work has been carried out on
the suspension control system or
vehicle sensors and unexpected
suspension movement has
occurred.
Introduction
Vehicles are commonly fitted
with air suspension, including
buses and coaches, refuse
vehicles, goods vehicles and
tankers. On a vehicle with an
air suspension system, inflated
rubber bellows (also known as
airbags) are supplied with air
from the vehicle’s air compressor
via a storage system. These
take the place of conventional
springs at each wheel or axle and
automatically ensure a consistent
ride height, regardless of the load
being carried. A typical set up is
shown in Figure 1.
When working on vehicles with
air suspension systems
Whilst these are produced by
numerous manufacturers the
20
When working on the air
suspension system itself
1. Undertake the actions above
for working on vehicles with air
suspension systems.
Work has been carried out
2. Exhaust the air from the
without de-pressurising the air
air suspension system before
suspension system and the
working on it.
pneumatic air bag or associated
3. Isolate the system by physical
components have ejected or
disconnection of the air supply.
ruptured.
The practice of temporary
isolation by clamping of air
Action required
suspension pipework (such as
Those carrying out or responsible by mole grips) does not provide
for work on vehicles fitted with air a secure isolation. In addition
hazards are common including;
suspension systems should:
determine whether dissipation
of stored air in the suspension
Clearance suddenly and
Ensure tasks are adequately
system is required.
unexpectedly changing due to a planned. This includes;
4. For leak testing, visually
drop in air pressure, automatic
confirming the configuration of
inspect the empty system, then
movements or air bellows
the particular suspension system, inflate and raise to full travel,
rupturing or deflating. This
assessing the risks associated
leave a short period of time
presents a crushing hazard
with each task, explaining each
before inspecting for leaks.
to those working in a position
task so it is fully understood
Should damage be identified,
where they may become trapped by the technician, providing
exhaust the air from the system
eg underneath the vehicle or
the necessary equipment to
before carrying out repairs.
between the wheel and chassis. undertake the job safely and
developing safe systems of
Relevant Legal Documents
Work on pressurised systems
work. These should take into
Health and Safety at Work etc Act
resulting in violent ejection of
account the specific tasks and
1974, Sections 2 (1) and 3 (1).
parts under pressure and failure control measures required. You
of components which may
should support your staff if they
become projectiles.
are being put under pressure by
third parties to work in an unsafe
manner.
Undertake minimal repair work
at the roadside or third-party
premises. The best place to
undertake such work is at an
adequately equipped vehicle
repair facility.
Air suspension systems on
vehicles
access to areas where they may
become trapped.
2. If you are working near a lifting
axle it should be isolated as it can
move without notice.
3. Carry out a visual check of the
configuration and condition of the
air suspension system.
1.Prevent movement of
suspension, either by fully
deflating the system or by using
Background
suitably rated props or stands
to prevent the chassis lowering.
HSE have investigated several
Under no circumstances should
serious incidents, including
air suspension be relied upon to
fatalities, involving air suspension maintain a vehicle’s ride height
systems on vehicles that have
or position whilst people gain

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