No matter how they are used, vacuum trucks are very powerful, capable machines. Remaining safe while operating these mechanical monsters is important to the companies that use them. When investing in good quality used vacuum trucks, buyers must be sure they understand the dangers these trucks pose – and how to keep operators safe while working.
Vacuum Truck Safety Procedures
There are many safety rules a company must establish in order to keep employees safe, such as always using appropriate gear and taking good care of trucks and equipment. Besides these things, there are a few other important procedures operators must undertake when using a vacuum service truck on any job site:
Never Enter the Tank – Unless it is empty or the operator is equipped with appropriate protective gear, no one should ever enter the vacuum service truck tank. It is a confined space, meaning whatever it has held does not air out or dissipate unless specifically cleaned. This is especially important to keep in mind when suctioning chemicals, septic waste, or other hazardous material that could cause a person to be overcome by toxic fumes. This is also why it is important to know exactly what materials have been held inside the tank of any used vacuum trucks.
Never Mix Wet and Dry – Most operators know not to suction different chemicals into the same tank and to always be aware of what they are carrying. What they may not know is that chemical reactions can occur just as easily if wet and dry substances are mixed – with very devastating consequences. An example is the accidental mixing of something as simple as bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) – which is used to extinguish fires as well as other commercial and safety applications – and water. If this mixture occurs inside the tank of any new or used vacuum truck, explosion is possible due to pressure buildup.
Ground Vacuum Trucks – It is easier than most people think to create static with a vacuum truck, whether suctioning wet or dry material. Materials simply passing through the hoses can create enough friction to build a static charge. Careful and thorough grounding, using a grounding system, is extremely important for the prevention of anything from a spark that could set off an explosion to an operator being electrocuted from a strong charge.
Use Vacuum Releases – Whenever working with high-pressure vacuum systems, the risk of injury is always present. Accidents happen – and when they involve powerful vacuum trucks, they can turn deadly. An inline T, or other release in the vacuum line, can be a lifesaver in the event someone or something is suctioned while the pumps are operating. Inline T’s are easier to reach and can be operated by someone in trouble or who may not be able to get to the pumps quickly. Along with the inline T, it is also more safe to use remote releases and vacuum releases, all of which serve the same purpose of opening up the hose line and releasing the vacuum pressure, in case of trouble.
Along with these important tips and the usual safety precautions that all operators should follow, careful observation and attention is the best way an operator can keep themselves and others safe. Work slowly and meticulously, and do not become too comfortable with a new or used vacuum truck, regardless of how routine the job may seem. Accidents are always possible – preventing them requires the right equipment, procedures, and a watchful eye. All of this will allow vacuum truck operators to stay safe and avoid dangerous mishaps!