Bucket trucks are unique, a useful vehicle that has been designed for some very specific uses that improve the safety of the job being done. Using bucket trucks only for those specific jobs is an easy and safe judgment call to make, after which the main focus lies in knowing how best to use the vehicle. An often overlooked safety detail that is actually rather important is the correct positioning of this helpful aerial lift truck – it can make the difference between job success and failure.
Despite the fact that bucket trucks are equipped with articulating cranes and rotational buckets that can turn in almost any direction to reach the right places, vehicle placement for any job is critical. The main consideration when deciding how to position a bucket truck is to find the best and safest placement based on the ground surface, type of crane, and access to the work area. By following OSHA guidelines on usage and positioning for the different types of work being done, safety will have been maximized in most cases. So it is vital before beginning work to analyze the working environment to find the best working arrangement.
Positioning and Obstacles
According to OSHA, the best placement for any aerial lift vehicle is where the truck, crane pedestal and bucket are in front of the pole and work area, providing optimal access. If there are obstacles in the way, or if the ground is uneven, damaged, or soft, other approaches should be taken for a safe set-up.
When dealing with a physical obstacle that prevents ideal vehicle placement, it is important to find a good set-up that provides ready access while remaining aware of the position of primary and secondary live wires. The best choice would be to not maneuver through the two sets of wires; however, it must sometimes be carefully done in order to reach an area on the other side of a pole. In this instance, the bucket truck should be positioned so the pedestal is behind the pole; then the boom can be carefully guided through either above or below the secondary lines to reach whichever set must be accessed.
Ground Surface Concerns
The best surface for a bucket truck will always be concrete or pavement that is clean, flat, and in good condition. When this is not feasible, adjustments should be made. Close attention must be paid to parking on top of storm drains, curbs, or broken asphalt, as the material could break and/or collapse under the truck’s weight. On soft ground, it is recommended to use steel skids to keep vehicles from getting stuck.
It is important to remember when positioned on such a surface that once the bucket goes up, the vehicle’s balance will shift; so parking must be where it will stay stable, unaffected by the weight shift from the boom going up. On sloping ground, a vehicle should be parked looking up the slope, with the pole in front of the crane pedestal. In this manner, the shifting weight of the rising crane leans over the largest portion of the vehicle, which keeps everything balanced. The opposite positioning could allow the vehicle to flip over backward.
Regardless of the truck’s position, there is one detail that OSHA insists be followed – usage of the vehicle’s outriggers. Correctly extended to block leaning to the most vulnerable sides, outriggers are an essential part of good positioning and flip-over prevention.
These tips may sound simple; however, it is important to understand how to maneuver a bucket truck and correctly position it despite any obstacles or hazards. By taking the extra time to check and recheck the location of bucket trucks, a safe work area can be accomplished and the risk of an accident greatly reduced!