Information on all makes/models of bucket trucks


:::: Bucket Truck Safety ::::

Safety Check – Daily

  • Tthe operator of the vehicle should conduct a safety / “circle check” of the vehicle to determine hazards, identify damage and leaks.
  • The “daily check” shall include but is not limited to a visual inspection of the vehicle exterior, including;
    • broken, damaged, loose or missing parts
    • tire bulges, cuts and pressure
    • oil and hydraulic leaks
    • weld integrity, such as cracks and rust
    • lighting (beam, directional and safety)
    • all required decals and stickers on or around the articulating boom
    • they must be in place, legible and understandable

Worksite Inspection 

  • Try not to park on uneven ground.
  • Keep an eye out for drop-offs, holes, bumps, and debris.
  • Do not operate the boom if wind gusts exceed 30 mph or there is a threat of an electrical storm.
  • Set emergency brake.
  • Position wheel chocks.
  • Look out for overhead obstructions.

Fall Hazards

  • Always keep feet on the floor of bucket.
  • Do not sit, stand, or climb on the edge of the basket.
  • Do not place any item in the bucket for the purpose of increasing work height (ladders, step stools).
  • Do not try to climb down from the bucket when it is raised.
  • Make sure bucket floor is clear of debris.

Tip-Over Hazards

  • Do not push or pull toward anything while raised in the bucket.
  • Do not carry ladders, etc. in bucket.
  • Do not exceed the 300 lb load capacity.
  • Do not move the truck when bucket is raised.
  • Do not operate in high winds.
  • Make sure truck is parked on even ground.
  • Make sure the outriggers are positioned properly.
  • Never use the bucket truck as a crane

Collision Hazards

  • Watch for traffic and beware of blind spots when driving the truck - take it SLOW.
  • Watch for overhead obstructions.
  • Travel very slow on bumpy or sloped ground and when driving near other workers or pedestrians. 

Electrocution Hazards

  • Maintain safe clearances from power lines and apparatus.  No aerial platform, insulated or not, provides any electrical protection to the occupant  if there is phase-to-phase or phase-to-ground contact. 

Improper Use

  • Never leave the truck unattended unless the key is taken out and the truck is secured from unauthorized users.
  • Never refuel the truck when the engine is running.

General Aerial Lift Device Use Practices Include:

  • On ladder trucks and tower trucks, secure aerial ladders in the lower traveling position by locking the device on top of the truck cab, and the manually operated device at the base of the ladder prior to moving the truck. Insure outrigger devices (if equipped) are properly stored prior to moving.
  • Set the brakes and position the outrigger devices (if equipped) on pads or similar solid surfaces and install the wheel chocks before using aerial lift equipment (especially on inclines).
  • Do not move aerial lift trucks with employees located in the elevated work boom position, except for equipment specifically designed or certified as "field modified" for this type of operation.
  • Insure that aerial lift devices equipped with working elevated platforms contain both elevated platform (upper) and lower controls. Upper controls are located in or beside the elevated platform, within easy reach of the operator. Lower controls are designed to override the upper controls.
  • Check to be sure that controls are plainly marked as to their function.
  • Test lift controls each day prior to use to insure safe working conditions.
  • Insure loads and distribution on working platforms and platform extensions are in accordance with manufacturer's rated capacity and do not exceed rated load limits. Affix stickers to vehicle that indicate manufacturer's rated load capacity of the working elevated platform and/or elevated platform extensions.
  • Insure all personnel in the working elevated platform are wearing appropriate personal protective devices at all times (e.g. hard hats to protect from overhead falling objects, being struck with nearby objects, struck by flying objects; safety shoes/boots; goggles/safety glasses with side shields/hard hat with shield; gloves; other protective clothing).
  • Insure that each employee uses an appropriate body belt/harness and lanyard device attached to the boom or basket or other appropriate passenger device as fall protection when working from an aerial lift device.
  • Insure that only trained and authorized employees operate aerial lift devices.
  • Keep feet firmly on the floor of the basket or elevated platform at all times.
  • Do not sit, climb or position yourself on the edge of the basket or elevated platform.
  • Do not use planks, ladders or other devices as substitute work positions.
  • Do not operate lower controls unless permission has been obtained from the employee(s) in the elevated platform, except in case of an emergency.
  • Do not position the aerial lift device against another object to steady the elevated platform.
  • Do not use aerial lift devices as a crane or other lifting device.
  • Do not operate aerial lift devices from trucks, scaffolds, or similar equipment unless approved in writing by the manufacturer.
  • Limit travel speeds of aerial lift devices according the conditions of the ground surface, congestion, visibility, slope, location of personnel and other factors that may cause hazards to other nearby personnel.
  • Shut down the aerial life device engine prior to fueling. Fuel engines or charge fuel cylinders in well ventilated areas free of flames, sparks or other hazards which may cause fires or explosions.
  • Charge batteries in well ventilated areas free of flames, sparks or other hazards which may cause fires or explosions.
  • Be sure to maintain a clear view of the path of travel, maintain a safe distance from other obstacles, debris, drop offs, holes, depressions, slopes and other hazards. Maintain a safe distance from overhead obstacles (including overhead electrical power lines).
  • Stunt driving and horseplay are prohibited.
  • Do not position booms and elevated platform devices in an attempt to jack the wheels off the ground.
  • Do not operate aerial lift devices on grades, side slopes or ramps that exceed the manufacturer's recommendations.
  • If elevated platforms or elevated work areas become caught, snagged or otherwise do not operate properly, remove personnel from the platform prior to freeing the elevated platform using ground controls.
  • Do not alter the insulated portion of an aerial lift device in any manner that might reduce its insulating effectiveness.
  • Insure the area surrounding the elevated platform is clear of personnel and equipment prior to lowering the elevated platform.
  • Perform inspections of aerial life devices per manufacturer's, ANSI/SIA and other regulatory agency schedules. Make repairs immediately.
  • Do not operate aerial lift devices with noted, reported deficiencies until repairs are made and equipment is authorized for use.
  • Perform electrical system safety tests on aerial lift devices per ANSI/SIA A92.2 requirements.
  • Inspect hydraulic and pneumatic system components (Bursting Safety Factor) on aerial lift devices per ANSI/SIA A92.2 requirements.
  • Conduct welding operations on aerial lift devices per Automotive Welding Society (AWS) Standards.

Recently, I had the opportunity to review a bucket truck accident and subsequent litigation  in the United States.  Imagine as follows, its a nice fall day…

A new signalized intersection has been installed as part of a state contract;
The only work remaining  over the roadway, is to finish hanging the new vehicle signals from the span wire;
Its late afternoon, you plan to “wrap up” the day’s work by installing a turn arrow in a new signal head….maybe a 15 or 20 minute job….
The intersection is 5-legged with the 5th leg 1-way outbound; and,
The primary roadway is 4-lanes;
Traffic volumes are moderate;
Traffic speeds are moderate (posted 30 mph); so,
Your bucket truck is parked in the curb lane;
Traffic control devices are placed to close this (curb) lane;
You can angle the boom over the 2nd or inside lane;
You schedule a patrolman from 9-3 for traffic control.

Sounds “routine” right? Now consider,

The work runs late;
The foreman dismisses the patrolman and assigns the electrician’s helper to conduct traffic control;
He is also working on a corner pedestrian signal pedestal and passing tools to the bucket operator;
The foreman and the other electrician leave for another job;
There foreman is aware of a municipal “no work rule” from 3PM through 6 PM;
There are high voltage trolley lines through the overhead area so the electrician has the bucket  “low”, about 13 ½ ft. clearance.

So, what happens?

A tractor trailer truck goes through the intersection and hits the “low” bucket;
The electrician is flipped out of the bucket and lands on the roof of the trailer;
He wasn’t harnessed nor lanyarded;
The electrician has substantial medical bills and he can’t work for months; and needs surgery;

So, what happened here?

The CDL truck operator “failed to maintain a lookout”.
He doesn’t recall the exact height of his truck.  He says,
“… I am generally familiar with this intersection; …driven through it before…..
…..I saw the cones and followed them around the bucket truck…..
…..I followed the car in front of me through the intersection…..
…..I don’t recall seeing the bucket or its operator…..
…..I don’t recall seeing my light…..”

What About Traffic Control?
The foreman and crew members disagree slightly but more or less say:
“…..The traffic control, for the primary lane, was set up with a flashing arrow board, a road construction sign ahead, and a right lane closed sign. The other inbound approach had signs as well.”

The electrician says:
“…..The trolley wires prevented me from raising the bucket higher…..”
He didn’t object to the traffic control in place.
He has 10 years operating bucket trucks but only about 6 months with a (this) traffic signal company.  His prior experience was as a lineman for a power company.

The other electrician says:
…..Before I got called to go to the other job, I was going to install the signal arrows.  I went into position (with the bucket) with no problem….

Now consider, the electrician’s company:

They had generic tail-gate safety meetings and company literature.
They had no formal training program.
Prior to the accident, the foreman was IMSA certified, the other workers were not.
Since the accident, the other workers have been IMSA certified.

So what should have been done?

 1. Provide an exclusive trained/certified traffic controller or traffic regulator
Even though the  policeman was dismissed, how could the electrical helper control traffic, work on the ped signal, and pass tools to the bucket man simultaneously?  NO way!

2. Recognize hazards and adjust the TCP (Traffic Control Plan)
The nonstandard 5-legged complex geometric intersection with moderate volumes and speeds combined with the low trolley wires and/or the inside lane work required the staging of the work by either

· Closing the inside lane(s)
· Closing the intersection

 3. Traffic Control Devices
Granted, the “usual ones” were in place, but where was the

· flagger ahead sign
This is an extraordinary situation. Supplemental devices should have been used to maximize conspicuity.  (Remember, the truck driver didn’t see the bucket or bucket man).
· high level warning devices such as flag trees,
· supplemental signs flags, or
· Type B high intensity flashing warning light(s)

4.  Training
Why was the electrical helper assigned as a traffic controller or regulator without training.  NO Way!
Why was the electrician (and other crew members) not formally trained until after the accident?  To say to a new employee in this case,  go up in the bucket with no training,,,,NO Way!

5.  PPE (Personal Protective Equipment)
  Abide by OSHA regulations (harness, lanyard).

6.  Work Over An Open Lane
 While not precluded by OSHA, consider a local policy prohibiting
  work over an open lane (vehicles pass under the boom).

Clearly, many issues are at hand in this case. The major ones are improper  supervision, improper traffic control, and lack of adequate training. And don’t forget, the bucket operator was too low and the truck driver failed to maintain a lookout.

The result?
An out of court settlement (to the electrician/bucket operator) was reached at the last minute.  The employer and the trucking company combined for a several hundred thousand dollar payment.

What Should You Learn?
Remember, temporary traffic control zones are dynamic changing areas. Your Traffic Control Plan must be commensurate with the risk at hand. The MUTCD and state/provincial manuals  prescribe minimum standards.  This case is an extraordinary situation requiring  more than minimum adherence.

Safety Tips for Aerial Lifts

Aerial lifts are frequently used in the industry for maintenance painting. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics about 26 construction workers (8% are industrial painters) die each year from using aerial lifts. Approximately 70% involve boom-supported lifts, such as bucket trucks and cherry pickers; 25% of the other deaths involve scissor lifts.

Aerial Lift Deaths from Boom Lifts

Half of the falls from boom lifts involved being ejected from the bucket after being struck by vehicles, cranes, or crane loads, or by falling objects, or when a lift suddenly jerked. Two-thirds of the deaths from collapses/tip-overs of boom lifts occurred when the bucket cable or boom broke or the bucket fell; almost one-third were due to tip-overs. Over one-third of the electrocutions involved an overhead power line contacting the lift boom or bucket. In most of the caught in/between deaths, a worker was caught between the bucket edge and objects such as roof joists or beams while repositioning the bucket.

Aerial Lift Deaths from Scissor Lifts

Three-quarters of the tip-overs of scissor lifts resulted in fall deaths; in the remaining accidents, workers died from being struck by the falling scissor lift. About two-fifths of the tip-overs occurred when the scissor lift was extended over 15 feet, mostly while driving the lift. In one-fifth of the falls the worker was ejected from the scissor lift, mostly when an object struck the scissor lift. Other fall deaths occurred after removal of chains or guardrails, or while standing on or leaning over railings.

Operator Training Is Vital

Frequently operators lack the training to know they are creating safety hazards. An aerial lift is a potentially dangerous tool when the operator has not read the operator’s manual. Contractors should provide required manuals to operators and maintenance mechanics. If they can not read or understand the language of manuals, ANSI safety standards allow others to explain the manuals. OSHA requires a qualified person to train all users on:

  • Any electrical, fall, and falling-object hazards.
  • Procedures for dealing with hazards.
  • How to operate the lift correctly (including maximum intended load and load capacity). The user must show he/she knows how to use the lift.
  • Manufacturer requirements.

If the hazards change, the type of aerial lift changes, or a worker is not operating a lift properly, workers must be retrained. Ask manufacturers and suppliers for specific instructions for the operation of special use aerial lift trucks. OSHA, NIOSH, the National Safety Council and their local affiliates, vocational-technical schools or other training institutions provide resources to learn this skill. (Find contact information below.)

In addition to the lack of training, many lift accidents are caused by misapplication of the machine, obstacles, and lack or use or incorrect use of outriggers.

Inspect Before Operating Lifts

Identifying and controlling hazards is very important for job site safety. OSHA regulations state that employers cannot force employees to use unsafe equipment. Generally a pre-start inspection is required for all types of aerial lifts at each job site. Check operating and emergency controls, safety devices (such as, outriggers and guardrails), personal fall-protection gear, wheels and tires, and other machine components specified by the manufacturer. Look for possible leaks (air, hydraulic fluid, and fuel-system) and loose or missing parts.

Contractors should immediately remove from service aerial platforms that do not operate properly or are in need of repair. A qualified mechanic must make all repairs using equivalent replacement parts. Substitution of parts is not wise; they have been known to cause accidents. De-energize and lockout/tagout aerial lifts before any maintenance or repairs. Each aerial lift must be inspected as the manufacturer requires – every 3 months or after 150 hours of use, whichever comes first.

Check the job site where the lift will be used. Look for a level surface that won’t shift. Check the slope of the ground or floor. A machine may not work properly on steep slopes that exceed slope limits set by the manufacturer. Look for hazards, such as, holes, drop-offs, bumps, and debris, and overhead power lines and other obstructions. Set outriggers, brakes, and wheel chocks – even if you’re working on a level slope.

Tips for Operating Aerial Lifts

  • Always close lift platform chains or doors.
  • Stand on the floor of the bucket or lift platform. Do not climb on or lean over guardrails, or ride on bumpers.
  • Do not exceed manufacturer's load-capacity limits (including the weight of such things as bucket liners and tools).
  • If working near traffic, put work-zone warnings, like cones and signs.
  • Do not modify an aerial lift without written permission of the manufacturer.
  • Be sure proper personal fall-protection is provided and used.
  • On bucket trucks, OSHA requires a full-body harness and lanyard or a restraining device to prevent falls. To help keep workers inside guardrails, OSHA allows restraining devices with a 2 ft. lanyard.

To prevent electrocutions painters, blasters, and other workers must stay at least 10 feet away from overhead power lines. Insulated buckets protect from electrocution due to electric current passing through you and the boom to ground. The buckets do not protect if there's another path to ground – for example, if you touch another wire.

To prevent tip-overs

  • Check the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Do not drive with the lift platform elevated (unless the manufacturer assures you that it is allowed).
  • Do not exceed vertical or horizontal reach limits or the specified load-capacity of the lift.
  • On an elevated scissor lift, avoid too much pushing or pulling.

More Safety Tips

  • If hazards on a job site change, the type of aerial lift changes, or a worker is not operating a lift properly, workers must be retrained.
  • Prevent unauthorized use by locking a machine, keeping its keys off the job site, or securing it in an inaccessible area when not working
  • Keep the operator’s manual on the machine at the job site not in the office.
  • Refer to the industry consensus standard, ANSI/SIA 92.2, for more information.

What You Should Know If You Rent

Many painting contractors rent aerial lifts instead of buying them. Therefore, you may not know which model you will be using, and may be unfamiliar with operator controls and other key features that differ on each model. Also, you may not know the maintenance history of the lift. The dealer or company renting out the lift should:

  • Properly inspect and service the lift before rental.
  • Provide operator and maintenance manuals.
  • Make sure the operator controls are easy to reach and properly marked.

- Based on Hazard Alert for Aerial Lift Safety and PowerPoint presentation by the .

Other sources of information

  • (CPWR) (301-578-8500)
  • NIOSH (1-800-356-4674)
  • OSHA (1-800-321-OSHA or