Bucket trucks are an essential piece of work equipment today. However, their use can sometimes be hazardous. Whether using new or used bucket trucks, the correct operation of these trucks requires adherence to important safety guidelines determined by OSHA. An essential part of the safe operation of these units is correct positioning. How a bucket truck is positioned can mean the difference between a job well done, and damage to equipment, or injuries to operators. Therefore, it is critical that any company with new or used bucket trucks teach their operators the importance of correct positioning, and how to avoid dangerous situations resulting from poor access and improperly used equipment.

Assess the Job Site First

Before setting any new or used bucket trucks up for work, an operator must first assess their work environment. They should take account of the area to be worked on, and any structures or objects that may impede access – like trees, other poles, vines or cables - and how they affect the way the unit should be positioned. Foreword planning and problem solving is safest, and allows workers to position their trucks only once, and with fewer problems.

Parking surfaces must also be taken into consideration. The ideal surface will be solid, level, and made of a material that will not break up or lose strength under the outriggers, during operation. Unfortunately, this is not what operators have to work with in many cases. Based on the surface type, skids or pads may be necessary for the best positioning.

Positioning Bucket Trucks for Safe Reach

New and used bucket trucks dealers say that to properly position a bucket truck for easiest and safest reach of aerial work sites, without having to repeatedly move the truck, the following rules should be followed:

  • Boom Pedestal - Unless there is no other way to reach the work area, always set a bucket truck up so the pedestal is closest to the work area. The boom pedestal should be on the same side, and in front of the pole being worked on for easiest access. For example, work being done on the left side of a pole means the truck would be positioned forward of the pole, and to the left.  
  • Positioning for Offside Reach - When it is not possible to position a truck close to the work side, or if work is to be done on both sides of a pole, trucks should be positioned on the same side as the secondary wires, and to the rear of the pole. This allows for the safest reach of both sides of the pole without moving the truck. With the boom pedestal to the rear of the pole, buckets can be carefully maneuvered for reaching both the close side and the offside, in two different ways, depending on the location of any secondary wires on the pole.
  • Movement Between Primary and Secondary Lines - With the truck positioned to the rear of the pole, buckets can be maneuvered either under secondary lines and up the other side, or between secondary and primary lines to reach the offside. Regardless of how this is accomplished, it should be done from the back side of the pole. This prevents the pole itself from becoming an obstruction in trying to reach the other side.

Companies that use bucket trucks in their operations must develop a training program to ensure that all operators know the safest ways to set up their equipment, and how to troubleshoot when work environments require problem solving. Whether operating new or used bucket trucks, it is essential that operators know how to position their vehicles for most efficient and safe use. This is especially important for any bucket truck company working with used equipment, and older technology. When operators are properly trained in the safe maneuvering of both older and newer equipment, any job can be done the right way!

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