Knuckleboom trucks are a specialized vehicle equipped with a large hydraulic boom and bucket used to provide a stable platform when working at tall heights. Due to the nature of the truck’s use and the risks involved when working at heights, it should always be prudent to inspect the vehicle prior to its use to make sure that it is safe for lifting workers.
Although routine maintenance inspections should always be performed on any vehicle, the inspection of knuckleboom trucks also should be performed just prior to vehicle operation. This examination should be done in three separate parts to make sure that the truck is safe to operation. Following are the individual inspection parts, which should hopefully be performed in the order as indicated.
In this part of the inspection process, the vehicle operator must visually check every part of the knucklebom trucks for any obvious signs of damage and worn-out parts on the trucks that could cause failure during operation. Here’s a list of the important components that should be inspected during this phase.
- Tires – Check all the tires on knuckleboom trucks for proper inflation. Use a tire pressure gauge to make sure that the air on each tire is balanced. Look for a tire with any cracks, bulges or cuts in either the tread or the sidewall deeper than one inch that could lead to rupture during operation. Remember that the truck’s tire provides the primary means of support for the entire truck, so it should always be well inflated and balanced.
- Hydraulic Components – Visually check the knuckleboom trucks for leaking hydraulic fluid around the hydraulic system. Leaks would appear as damp areas near hydraulic hose connections and on the hydraulic rams dust seals. Check the level of hydraulic fluid and be sure that it is still within normal prescribed levels.
- Engine – Check the engine’s oil level and belt, including the radiator cooling fluid.
- Battery – Check the battery’s positive and negative terminals and be sure that the wires are properly hooked and there is no sign of corrosion on the terminals.
- Boom – Check the boom for alignment. It should be straight without any sign of cracks or bends.
- Articulated Joints – Check for cracks and signs of excessive wear such as metal shavings or rust.
The powered check is just as it sounds, an inspection performed on knuckleboom trucks while the engine is running. During this phase, see to it that the following gauges and controls are properly working.
- Oil Pressure Gauge – Make sure that the oil pressure inside the engine is within operating limits. This is important since the engine will provide the power to drive the hydraulic system as well as the knuckleboom trucks.
- Battery Level – Check the gauge to see if the battery is properly charging while the engine is running.
- Platform Controls – Test the hydraulic lift’s functions and ensure that everything is properly functioning.
- Outriggers – Test the outriggers and make sure that each one accurately deploys.
Once at the job-site, it is also important to make sure that the planned operation area is safe to operate knuckleboom trucks. The following items should be reviewed during this phase.
- Overhead Obstructions – Determine that there is nothing that could obstruct the lift during operation.
- Power cables – Unless power lines are the specific item to work with, be sure to be located away from power lines to avoid electrocution.
- Bad weather – Do not operate the bucket during lightning storms or strong winds.
- Uneven surface – Make sure the neither the knuckleboom trucks nor the outriggers are located in any ground ruts or ridges. It is very important that the outriggers are deployed on a stable surface such as cement or asphalt to avoid tipping.
- Pedestrians and Traffic – When working near traffic or sidewalks, always divert incoming traffic and pedestrians so the bucket can safely function.
Any inspection of knuckleboom trucks should be done by the truck’s operator since that person should be well versed about the vehicle components and operation. The truck inspection should also be performed in a well-lit and well-ventilated area to maximize visibility and to avoid any problems caused by the truck’s exhaust.
Close adherence to these steps will help to avoid any preventable problems with knuckleboom trucks while they are being operated and therefore avoid any potential injuries.