knuckle boom trucksKnuckleboom trucks have a unique role during clean-up operations after a storm and are often the equipment of choice for removing piles of debris to load into a dump truck for disposal. While these trucks are perfectly capable of such work, safety should always be a top priority when working around the equipment, especially when used during major catastrophes with many inherent dangers lurking around the job site. Here are some of the dangers that should be watched for during storm debris removal.

  • Falling Knuckleboom trucks are often used to remove objects that are in danger of falling; however, removal may still need human assistance which can place an individual at risk for falls. According to OSHA, falling is one a leading cause of fatalities among workers involved in storm cleanup.
  • Electrocution – Broken power lines are just one of the problems that a storm can create that also poses a serious hazard to workers. Tangled power lines can litter the damaged area and it is difficult to tell at a glance if they are still live. This danger is often not recognized and electrocution is the result.
  • Asphyxiation Boom trucks are powered by internal combustion engines, which generate carbon monoxide. When operated in a confined space, workers can be put at risk of lack of oxygen or asphyxia in the job area – leading to loss of consciousness, suffocation, and even death.
  • Structural Collapse – High winds can compromise the structural integrity of a building and weaken the building to a point where it could collapse. Employees often must remove damaged structures; if a thorough assessment is not done, they would at risk of the collapse of the structure.

Avoiding Dangers In A Storm-Stricken Area

While working with a boom truck during storm clean-up has some risks, it is something that can be avoided. Here are some of the steps to improve safety at the job site during storm debris removal operations.

  • Personal Protective Equipment – Personal protective equipment must always be worn on the job site which would include such items as a hard hat, protective glasses, insulated gloves, a high visibility vest, a safety lanyard, steel toe boots, etc. Such equipment is designed to make workers easily visible and protected from injuries.
  • Equipment Training – Before being assigned to work with equipment such as a boom truck, employees must have training to learn basic information about equipment operation, how to work safety around the boom truck, and what risks are involved when using the equipment. In the case of boom trucks, tipping over can happen if improperly or over loaded .
  • Roadside Protection – At most storm clean-up debris removal sites, boom trucks are positioned and operate at the side of the road. This puts workers assigned to a truck at high risk of being hit by passing vehicles. To prevent such a risk, training must be provided on how to improve visibility with warning devices such as safety cones, warning signal lights, and signs that alert oncoming traffic to the danger ahead.

Working with knuckleboom trucks during storm clean-up operations is convenient because the equipment can help workers accomplish the task at hand. There will always be risks involved when working with large equipment under hazardous conditions; however, such risks can be reduced and accidents prevented with knowledge, awareness, and always following safety protocols!

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