Bucket Truck Accidents
What are Bucket Trucks?
The buckets trucks and booms allow linemen to work on utility lines and equipment that could not be reached from standing on the ground. A bucket is attached by a retractable boom to a truck, and the bucket is cradled on top of the truck for transport. When cradled, the bucket is approximately twelve feet above the ground.
Often used by utility companies (electric and phone company), tree trimmers, and even farmers, a bucket truck is often a larger vehicle with a hydraulic arm (or boom) with a bucket at the end where a worker can raise and lower him or herself to work at various elevations.
Due to their height it is not uncommon for workers to be fearful of falling from a bucket if the truck is struck by another vehicle or the truck tipping from high winds or an unstable base.
Most bucket truck accidents are not deadly but can result in significant injuries.
If you are not familiar with the term “bucket truck,” a bucket truck is a truck with a boom and bucket (also called a cherry picker) attached to it and is often used as a service vehicle in utility businesses such as electric and phone companies. Tree cutters must use bucket trucks to reach the taller branches. Bucket trucks allow utility workers to access high wires.
If you have been injured while working on a bucket truck, call an experienced injury attorney at Emerson Injury Law to learn your options. We will fight to keep others from experiencing the pain that you and your family are going through.
Bucket Truck Accidents
How do Bucket Truck Accidents Occur?
The design and safety of bucket trucks is regulated by various local, state and federal regulations. Just like cars, not all bucket trucks are designed the same. In order for a bucket truck to be safe for workers use it must have a sound design and use quality parts. Further, the employer has an obligation to ensure that it’s workers using bucket trucks have been thoroughly trained in the operation, maintenance, and safety of the bucket truck. Even with correct training procedures in place accidents do happen. Bucket truck accidents generally occur in one of three manners:
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- Overturning of truck
- Power failure
Due to their height bucket trucks have a high center of gravity which can lead to the truck overturning. Bucket truck operators must ensure that the truck is parked on a flat surface, and to not overload the boom arm with too much weight in order to reduce the risk of overturning.
Bucket trucks are powerful tools due to the use of a hydraulic system. If the trucks hydraulics fail the bucket can become inoperable leaving the operator 40 feet in the air close to danger and no easy way to get back to the ground. That is why it is so important to ensure that all safety protocols are followed, and that the truck and its systems are regularly inspected and maintained.
Unfortunately, bucket trucks are involved in a number of electrocution injuries and even death when the workers themselves, their tools, the bucket, or the boom arm touch highly dangerous power lines. Tree trimmers often use boom trucks to remove limbs from and around power lines. If they have not been properly trained there is an increased risk of significant injury.
The injury attorneys at Emerson Law can help you with your bucket truck accident injury. Don’t be afraid to call. We will let you know if you have a case worth pursuing. Contact Emerson Law today to schedule a free no-cost consultation to learn more.
In response to a series of reports of accidents involving Altec bucket trucks, Altec Industries, Inc. issued the following Safety Bulletin on August 21, 2000:
Safety Alert Bulletin SAB001
Electrical Continuity Hazard
Always wear insulated protective equipment, use conductor cover-ups, and maintain required clearances when in the vicinity of energized conductors.
Aerial devices and digger derricks with insulated booms can only isolate the operator from grounding through the boom and vehicle. They cannot provide protection against phase-to-phase or phase-to-ground contacts occurring at the boom-tip, above the insulated boom sections.
Boom-tips of aerial devices and digger derricks, of necessity, must contain metal components. Metal conducts electricity. Moreover, under certain circumstances, and to varying degrees, electricity will track across or through non-metallic components (fiberglass covers and structures, hoses, etc.). Electricity can even arc through air. Thus, the boom-tip of an aerial device or a digger derrick must be considered conductive!
If any part of the boom-tip contacts an energized conductor, the entire boom-tip, including the control handle, must be considered energized.
If any part of the boom-tip contacts a grounded object, the entire boom-tip, including the control handle, must be considered grounded.
Hydraulic fluid is flammable. If electricity flows through the boom-tip, it can cause the hydraulic fluid to burn or to explode. Contact by any part of the boom-tip with an energized conductor while the boom-tip also is in contact with another energized source or a grounded object can cause the hydraulic fluid at the boom-tip to burn or explode.
These are among the reasons aerial devices1 and digger derricks are never considered primary protection for the operator from electrical contact. An operator’s primary protection comes through use of protective equipment (insulated gloves, insulated sleeves, conductor cover-ups) and maintenance of appropriate clearances.
Do not rely on the boom-tip of an aerial device or digger derrick to protect you from an energized conductor or a ground. It cannot do so. Rely, instead, on the only things that can protect you, use of appropriate protective equipment and maintenance of appropriate clearances.
1Except ANSI Category A units
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