A Tisket, a Tasket, a Risky Basket for Workers
Bucket trucks are sometimes called basket cranes, boom trucks, or, more commonly, “cherry pickers.”
Doing your job in a bucket truck is associated with known risks. While most jobs have hazards, with some having more hazards than others, the chances of being injured while working in a bucket truck are serious. Workers are sometimes positioned over 100 feet above the ground, occasionally near power lines. Is it any wonder that bucket truck injuries are often severe and sometimes fatal?
What Is a Bucket Truck?
A bucket truck is simply a small-to-medium, low-sided utility truck with an extendable pole which has a bucket or basket attached to its end. The combination of the bucket and pole is called the boom, and the boom can be controlled either inside the bucket or by using a panel on the truck. Booms are usually hydraulic and powered by electric motors. Modern bucket trucks are designed so that the boom can operate without the truck’s engine running, which both increases safety and saves fuel. The working height of some bucket trucks can be over 100 feet.
Who Uses Bucket Trucks?
Many maintenance and service industries use bucket trucks, including government agencies and private businesses. Those workers whose job means time spent in bucket trucks include:
- Construction workers, especially those in commercial or government construction
- Highway or other government workers
- Utility workers (electrical, telephone, cable, and so on)
- Tree trimmers
- Billboard workers
- Cleaning and maintenance staff.
We’ve seen the following occupational injuries in Indiana over the past few years:
- In Indianapolis, because his bucket was “jostled,” a worker was thrown 50 feet out of the bucket, fatally injuring him. It turns out he was wearing a safety harness, but it wasn’t attached to anything, rendering it useless.
- Near Crown Point, an INDOT worker suffered a broken leg when his truck tipped over.
- A Kokomo worker was airlifted to an Indianapolis hospital due to the seriousness of his injuries after his bucket fell to the ground. An investigation showed that the safety catch bucket was not secured.
- Near Hamilton Town Center in Noblesville, a man was injured and taken to an Indianapolis hospital after his bucket truck flipped onto its side, trapping him in the bucket.
Ways That Occupational Injuries Happen
From the Indiana cases mentioned above, it’s clear that there are multiple ways to be harmed when you’re a bucket truck worker. You’re most likely to be injured because of:
- Electrocution from nearby power lines
- Falling or being thrown out of the bucket
- Your truck overturning
- Your bucket losing control or dropping from hydraulics failure.
Work Smarter, Work Safely
There are ways to avoid becoming a statistic. While you may not be personally able to implement all of the following recommendations for safe work practices by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), it is wise to be aware of them should you be hurt. Neglecting some of OSHA’s recommendations could mean a legally actionable suit in the case of occupational injury.
- All those who run the booms should be properly trained.
- All maintenance as recommended by manufacturers should be performed on schedule.
- Safety devices or procedures should never be overridden or ignored.
- Workers should never position themselves between overhead obstacles and the rails of the bucket, to avoid being crushed.
- Always maintain a minimum distance of 10 feet between you and the nearest live power lines, wires, or conductors.
- Always use body harnesses or restraints to keep from being ejected or pulled out of the bucket.
- If outriggers are provided, use them.
- The truck’s brakes should always be set. When parked on an incline, use wheel chocks.
- Never move or drive the truck while workers are in the bucket.
- Never exceed the truck’s load limits.
When Something Goes Wrong, We Are Left to Wonder
State and federal agencies have strict guidelines and regulations to keep bucket truck workers safe while they are doing their jobs. In some cases, employers might ignore these regulations or fail to ensure they are properly followed. In such a situation, a case can sometimes be made for negligence. There can also be questions of malfunctioning truck booms or other mechanical problems because of manufacturer’s defects or improper truck maintenance.
With over 30 years’ experience handling workplace injury claims in Indiana, let McNeely Stephenson put their resources to work for you. You may be eligible for compensation to assist you with medical bills and other financial obligations. If you would like to explore your options, contact Mike Stephenson at 1-855-206-2555, or use our online form. At McNeely Stephenson, we believe justice matters.