In addition to proper bucket truck maintenance, another item that need to be on your priority list after you’ve made the investment to purchase a bucket truck is safety. Adhering to safe work practices will keep you and your employees alive and out of legal trouble.
Get in the habit of checking your truck’s safety components. It’s important to check the safety of your vehicle before beginning each shift. That includes a visual check of the truck’s exterior and systems to ensure that tires and other parts are sound, and that no parts are leaking oil or hydraulic fluid.
The major causes of fatalities are falls, electrocutions, and collapses or tip-overs. Employers must take measures to ensure the safe use of aerial lifts by their workers if they are required to use this equipment in the course of their employment.
Operators shouldn’t use a bucket truck to lift a load unless it was manufactured to do so. Doing so can affect the stability and tipping point of your bucket truck and can easily lead to tip over. There are certain types of bucket trucks -- commonly used in the signage and forestry industries -- that are designed to support the additional weight. These vehicle mounted aerial lifts come equipped with a winch and hoisting capabilities. They are specifically designed to lift loads.
Knowing this, it’s important that workers always wear adequate fall protection while working in the bucket, such as a body belt and harness with a lanyard that can be attached to the bucket or the boom. One must take fall distance into account to ensure that the equipment is setup for the appropriate distance (fall protection designed for a 20-foot fall while the worker is only 12 feet above the ground won’t do him much good).
While in the bucket, workers must always keep both feet on the floor and make sure there is nothing that could cause them to trip. debris that could present a trip hazard. Never try to sit or stand on the edge of the bucket itself or try to extend their reach by placing a ladder or a step stool in the bucket.
Certain bucket truck accessories, like bucket covers, which prevent water from pooling inside the bucket when not in use and tool trays, which keep all tools within a safe and easy reach, can also increase job-site safety. Learn more about bucket and boom truck accessories here.
Safe Work Practices
Make sure that workers who operate aerial lifts are properly trained in the safe use of the equipment.
Maintain and operate elevating work platforms according to the manufacturer's instructions.
Never override hydraulic, mechanical, or electrical safety devices.
Never move the equipment with workers in an elevated platform unless this is permitted by the manufacturer.
Do not allow workers to position themselves between overhead hazards, such as joists and beams, and the rails of the basket. Movement of the lift could crush the worker(s).
Maintain a minimum clearance of at least 10 feet, or 3 meters, away from the nearest energized overhead lines.
Always treat power lines, wires and other conductors as energized, even if they are down or appear to be insulated. Even if the bucket itself is insulated, a worker inside the bucket is in danger if there is contact with a live electrical circuit.
Use a body harness or restraining belt with a lanyard attached to the boom or basket to prevent the worker(s) from being ejected or pulled from the basket.
Use outriggers, if provided. They should be extended fully and positioned properly, once again on stable material, before the bucket is raised. Brakes should be set, and if wheel chocks are appropriate, they should be placed.
Do not exceed the load limits of the equipment. Allow for the combined weight of the worker, tools and materials.
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