Better Save than Sorry – A Bucket Truck Safety Tip
One of the biggest issues facing linemen and other crewmembers that spend their days working out of a bucket truck is safety. Bucket trucks are generally customized to deal with very specific types of work. On occasion a maintenance company will be forced, by circumstance, to use a particular bucket truck from their fleet for a job that it wasn’t designed for. Sure the job can be done using the truck, but is it worth the risk.
Take for example a lighting maintenance worker that spends most of his time in a bucket truck replacing spent bulbs from light poles in a parking lot, who is now asked to replace a damaged light pole. The problem is, the maintenance company does not have a properly equipped pole truck to handle the job and instead use a jib/wench attached to their bucket truck to take down the old pole and put up the new one.
Without checking the load rating on the truck’s boom and the hydraulics it is impossible to know what the rig can safely handle. Even though, in most cases, the job can be done – the question remains: “Is it safe?” OSHA has issued guidelines relating to the proper use of bucket trucks as well as other variations in this particular class of specialized utility vehicles. The OSHA standards deal with minimum safety requirements and should be adhered to whenever operating a bucket truck or similar vehicles.
Several years ago the American Public Power Association released an eight-part DVD series that provided safety training specifically geared for public power utilities. One of the volumes deals with the safe operation of bucket trucks and covers topics including equipment inspection, precautions to prevent falling and rescue procedures. Several other companies have produced similar safety videos.
It is always a good idea to review the specs for a particular vehicle and the tools and accessories that will be used to perform a specific task. Know the OSHA guidelines and if available, review any safety videos on hand. Bucket trucks are versatile machines that are able to do a variety of tasks. But without knowing the limitations of the equipment it may be difficult to avoid a hazardous situation. When purchasing a new or used bucket truck, it is always recommended to work with a reliable dealer who can review the manual and go over any safety issues before concluding the sale.
As one fellow put it, I know a lot of old linemen, as well as my share of careless linemen, but I can’t recall ever meeting an old careless lineman.
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