Bucket trucks are very versatile pieces of equipment that have become important utility vehicles on the modern construction job-site. The bucket that is attached to the boom is the mechanism that enables a worker to perform many aerial tasks. Along with its usefulness, there are many hazards associated with the entire boom apparatus. Electrocution is one of those hazards and has become the primary cause of injuries and even fatalities.
Owning an insulated bucket truck does not necessarily make the operator immune from electrocution. Just like any other piece of equipment, these vehicles' parts contain metal which is a strong conductor of electricity. Even with an insulated boom, there are parts that do not provide any insulation. For example, these vehicles may have a band of arrows to indicate the point at which the insulated part of the upper boom ends.
In addition, covers and guards that are installed do not fully guarantee protection from electrocution in cases of power line contact, so it is better to take extra precautions and not rely solely on the insulation that is part of the vehicle.
There are quite a few non-utility company operators who routinely use bucket trucks for aerial tasks that place them close to live utility lines. Their job may be to put up holiday lights, trim trees, paint buildings and other high structural maintenance work. Awareness about the dangers of working near live power lines is necessary for such workers.
It is highly recommended that non-utility company operators know and practice safety standards for such tasks; they should be aware of the risks of working near live power lines. The following are recommended safety procedures for non-utility company bucket truck operators to perform prior to beginning any aerial work.
* Check for No Ground Path - Be sure to check that the equipment is free from any ground paths, especially with the insulated bucket of the truck. Always remember not to rely completely on the insulated protection provided with the vehicle.
* Tool Job Ratings - Check all electrical tools and equipment to make sure that they have the correct job ratings.
* Check Insulation Barriers - Make sure that all insulation barriers and other equipment subject to wear-and-tear are checked routinely. Never use any tools or equipment that are dirty, wet or with deteriorated insulation.
* De-energize Power Lines - For aerial tasks that will be performed near power lines, ask the utility company to de-energize the lines or install additional protective insulation for the duration of the task.
When the work has begun, following are some important things to remember:
* Do Not Touch Any Line - Operators should treat all wires and utility cables as if they are energized and should not attempt to touch them.
* Keep Safe Clearance - Make sure that there is adequate clearance between the equipment and the bucket of the truck and all electrical wires. It is recommended to keep at least ten feet away.
* Wear Protective Gear Always - All operators should wear approved protective gear when performing jobs that are electrical in nature, for example, putting up decorative lights.
* Don't Use Tools Near Lines - If the operator needs to use a tool that extends away from the bucket, be sure that the truck is positioned further than the length of the tool from any electrical wires.
For all operators, safety should be the first concern. All workers should be familiar with the equipment and be well informed about the work site where the jobs will be performed. A comprehensive bucket truck training and certification program is very important to preserve life and property; it should be the goal of every operator to complete a training and certification program. Should any uncertainties arise during operations, it is better to seek help from professionals and thereby prevent injury or loss of life. Insulated bucket truck safety facts are the most important thing a worker can learn before operating this heavy duty equipment!