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Do’s and Don’ts When Operating Bucket Trucks

Bucket trucks (also called aerial lifts) are extremely useful for accessing areas far above the ground. They’re highly common in electrical repair but can be used for other things like construction, painting, forestry, cleaning services and more. As simple as a bucket truck may seem, tons of accidents can happen so precautions must be taken in order to prevent serious bucket truck operator injuries and bucket truck team injuries. As a licensed electrical work company, our guide Do-and-Don’t Guide below makes sure to comply with the standards set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Do Make Sure Your Bucket Truck Operators are Properly Trained

Raising and lowering a basket may seem straightforward, but there is mandatory training involved before a person can become a bucket truck operator.

There are many dangers associated with being a utility worker like being ejected from the bucket basket or being electrocuted by power lines.

The risk of injury or death decreases significantly when your electricians know how to properly and safely use the equipment available to them, yet increases exponentially when a novice operator works the controls.

Things like jitters, the slightest miss-bump, going down instead of up, booming out instead of in, or not minding every surrounding or weather conditions could mean life or death for a member of your team.

An experienced bucket truck company makes sure all their workers are properly trained according to OSHA and other safety standards so that during the next electrical problem, you won’t have to worry.

Don’t Assume Lineman are Trained Bucket Truck Operators

Just because a worker has experience as a lineman it doesn’t mean they can just hop in the driver’s seat on a bucket truck.

The additional training step is required and should never be bypassed. While both of the jobs of bucket truck operator and lineman involve working in bucket trucks, they take place in different environmental and situational contexts.

Don’t Move a Bucket Truck While the Boom Is Out

While this may go without saying, never drive a bucket truck while the boom is out and there is a worker in the basket.

The only exception to this rule is if your bucket truck is specifically designed for mobile operation by the manufacturer.

On that note: to promote bucket truck safety, make sure your team is aware of what operations are permitted by the bucket truck manufacturer.

Do Maintain Proper Clearance of Energized Overhead Lines

To significantly reduce the risk of electrocution, it’s necessary to keep a minimum clearance of 10 feet from energized overhead lines.

This goes for painting, forestry, construction, electrical work, and any other bucket truck use you can think of.

In addition to this, make sure your workers always assume power lines are energized, even if they appear to be insulated. This extra precaution will help protect your workers on the off chance that a power line appears safe but is actually energized.

It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Don’t Exceed the Basket Load Limits

Another no brainer, but it’s easy to miss.

Before sending a lineman up with supplies, make sure all combined weights don’t exceed the maximum limit provided by the manufacturer.

As a professional bucket truck company, we’re aware of how many different models and makes of bucket trucks are out there. Never assume that because one bucket truck lifted everything just fine that another bucket truck will too.

Do Use Harnesses and Fall Protection Equipment

In the event that one of your electrical workers is ejected or pulled from the bucket truck basket, a full-body harness could save their life.

If the carabiner or lanyard on a full-body harness is properly secured to the basket, it adds an added layer of safety, but in the case of an accident, your team will have to act fast.

As soon as a staff member becomes suspended, you have 5 minutes to get them to safety before major brain damage or circulatory trauma may occur.

This warning is another reason we stress not letting someone operate a bucket truck that doesn’t know what they’re doing. They may handle operations fine, but in the event of an emergency, the pressure of getting someone to the ground safely may cause them to panic and seriously injure or kill someone.

If a team member becomes suspended, bring them to the ground with caution. Time may be working against you, but booming in fast or dropping the basket too quickly could result in a fall injury. The other worry to watch out for is crushing a team member with the basket.

Yes, you want to get them on the ground, but depending on their angle, they could be hanging just below the basket. This means that an added degree of extreme caution must be made while lowering the basket.

Want to Work with Flat River Electric?

When electricians work far above the ground, they need to take special precautions in the event of an accident. As professional bucket truck operators, we know this trade in and out. If you are interested in our bucket truck services, please feel free to call our East Grand Rapids electricians at (616) 987-0596. The licensed commercial electricians at Flat River Electric are dedicated to helping other electricians stay safe on the job.

[This blog post has been updated.]

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