Using Your Bucket Truck in Snow & Ice

Many parts of of the United States and Canada experience extreme winter weather. They consistently receive large amounts of snow and ice during the winter season. Many parts of this region get hit with late-season snow and ice storms. Parts of the area may experience power outages which are much more dangerous in the cold and harsh weather than in more southern regions.

bucket truck working in snowDuring Winter, a huge challenge is working safely when outdoors. Utility bucket truck workers face some of the greatest challenges while working outdoors near power lines, ice covered trees, and other dangerous areas all while working in cold, icy weather. Since the effect of large snowstorms and freezing rain often includes broken power lines, damaged utility poles, and fallen tree limbs or even trees themselves, there is a very good chance that workers will need to respond to these problems during and after these storms.

An insulated bucket is a safe-guard against live electric lines coming in contact with the boom. If it somehow comes in contact with live lines, the insulated bucket provides extra protection from energizing the truck and creating a possibly deadly situation for anyone working in or around the utility truck.

Working with live power lines means extra precautions and only experienced and knowledgeable workers should perform these tasks. All utility workers should be familiar with and follow OSHA regulations. It is helpful to have a ground person at the work site to aid with the lift operation and help the vehicle operators avoid blind spots. Always follow safe bucket truck operation procedure.

When ice – snow accumulation becomes heavy on tree branches, limbs often break because of the extra weight. There is a very  high probability of tree limbs breaking loose and causing harm to people, homes, vehicles, and other things. To prevent these things from happening, professionals are hired to cut down the threatening tree limbs.

Maintenance of utility trucks is critical to safe operation. A seasonal check of the truck and it’s components is mandated by OSHA and other federal regulatory commissions. It is also advisable that owners/ operators make necessary adjustments on the electric choke and to make sure there is a spare spark plug for future use. It’s also very important to have a daily check list. A typical daily checklist could look something like this:

  • Make sure the fuel tank is full before going to any work-site. Also, it is important to verify that propane tanks are full and the starter is able to power up the electric generator.
  • The bucket of the vehicle should be clean and consider replacing the cover with a new one.
  • Double check the -emergency stop- is functioning properly as well as the emergency lowering device. Know how to lower the bucket safely should there be any power failure.

Quick response to winter storm emergencies with caution and using safe practices, will greatly decrease the number of injuries and deaths. It is just as  important to deploy bucket trucks with operators that are well-trained and well-equipped, especially when responding to tasks that require working near or on live electric lines. It is of the utmost importance, to both the public and workers, that these vehicles are operated with the top priority being safety. Then bucket trucks can truly provide a speedy recovery from the dangerous results of snow or ice storms.

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