Following a regular maintenance schedule for a used dump truck is important. Since it has been used by its previous owner, it is important to conduct regular maintenance in order to make the most out any remaining service life.
Checking Underneath the Dump Bed
One of the components on a used dump truck that needs to be checked regularly is everything underneath its dump bed. Some of the customary work done under the dump bed includes: overhauls to the hydraulic system or air lines; framework welding; all electrical lines and cables; PTO (power take-off) stems; hydraulic pumps; and ordinary re-greasing to name a few. Due to the dump bed’s design, conducting maintenance on components located underneath it does pose some serious risks to the service crew.
Following are three cases illustrated by OSHA to highlight the risks involved when working underneath a raised dump bed:
- While fixing a rear stabilizer bar on a dump truck, an employee had the dump bed elevated and had placed the safety support. While working, the dump bed hydraulic system failed and the weight that was being held by the safety support also failed. The bed then came down and pinned the employee underneath.
- Some maintenance workers were working on putting a bed onto the truck’s frame. The bed was raised and lowered several times to check for alignment. After the rear hinge of the bed was locked in place, the bed was elevated again so a circular rod could be installed underneath the dump bed to secure it while elevated. During the installation which involved a crane, its safety latch used to raise the dump bed failed, causing the dump bed to come loose. The dump bed crushed the worker’s arm between the truck frame and the dump bed.
- While applying grease to the U-joints on a used dump truck, a worker elevated the dump bed and secured it with a 4 x 6 x 8 inch wood piece. The prop accidentally came loose and caused the bed to fall onto the worker’s back resulting in a serious injury to the worker that later resulted in his death.
These problems are not isolated cases. There were as many as 31 similar accidents over the last ten years as reported by OSHA on its Integrated Management Information System accident data.
The cause of these accidents is not due to the lack of a safety mechanism. In fact, every used dump truck is equipped with body props to permanently support the dump body when an employee is working underneath the dump bed. These accidents often happen when workers raise the dump bed to a height that is beyond the fixed length of the props in order to access the hard-to-reach areas of the dump bed. Since the prop’s height cannot be changed, it cannot support the dump bed beyond a certain length. Workers then resort to creating makeshift supports and sometimes even skip the need of installing a support altogether, then raise the height of the dump bed beyond the prop’s support which increases the risk of such accidents occurring.
To prevent such accidents from happening, dump truck operators and service crews can use a truck bed brace bracket. This is a pair of steel supports that are installed between the truck chassis and the dump bed’s support. The truck bed brace bracket is secured by groves that fit on both ends of the truck chassis and dump bed as well as a chain that is anchored on the dump bed to keep it from slipping. The truck bed brace can slide back as far as possible to support the truck bed regardless of the angle of its inclination.
Conducting regular maintenance on vital truck parts of a used dump truck is important; therefore, the operator should prepare a maintenance checklist. For parts that are located in hard-to-reach areas such as under the truck bed, the props that are standard on most dump trucks are non-adjustable. These props should not be relied upon for servicing that requires the dump bed to be at a much higher position than the prop’s capacity. To conduct maintenance on parts that are difficult to reach underneath the dump bed, it is important for operators to invest in additional safety equipment, such as a truck bed brace bracket. Then any work to be done on the dump bed or its underside can be done in safety!