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Boom Truck Safety: Elevate Your Safety Awareness on the Job

Boom trucks, like bucket trucks and truck cranes, can get the job done, but they can also be dangerous if not used safely.

A bucket truck parked, ready to go.

A boom truck is a vehicle with a hydraulic telescopic or articulating boom mounted on it. The boom can be designed to hold either a bucket (which can lift personnel) or lifting equipment (to hoist heavy loads).

The most common boom truck incidents involve:

  • Falls, from improper use of the lift
  • Electrocution, from accidental contact with energized power lines
  • Tip overs, when truck is set up on steep or unstable surface or supports aren’t used
  • Struck-by hazards, or collisions from traffic on roads
  • Falling objects, when the area underneath the lift isn’t secured

Only trained and authorized employees are allowed to operate boom trucks. Employees must receive training in the safe operation of the model and type of bucket truck so they will understand and avoid unsafe conditions that could lead to injuries.

OSHA Construction Standard 1926.453(b)(2)(ii) Only authorized persons shall operate an aerial lift. OSHA General Industry Standard 1910.67(c)(2)(ii) Only trained persons shall operate an aerial lift.

If you are working in an area where a boom truck is in operation always obey all posted warning signs, only walk on designated pedestrian pathways, avoid distractions, and maintain situational awareness.

Conduct a thorough pre-start inspection before operation. This is usually done before each work shift to ensure the truck is safe to operate. The operator’s manual should provide a list of important items to check.

Survey the area where the boom truck will be used before setting up the truck to identify and avoid potential hazards such unstable ground, traffic hazards, or other dangers. Confirm that all of the boom truck controls are labeled properly. The layout of controls from one truck to another often varies.

A bucket truck driving on the highway.

When working in a lift, like a bucket truck, fall protection is important. Use fall protection every time when working in the lift! Use the right fall protection for the specific type of lift and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations!

Where OSHA rules apply, aerial lift operators are required to wear fall protection. Typically, PPE will consist of a five-point harness with a decelerating lanyard.

Stand firmly inside the lift and never sit or climb on the edge of the bucket (or basket) or use boxes or other items to get additional height. Do not exit the basket or bucket unless it is lowered into the resting position.

OSHA Construction Standard 1926.453(b)(2)(iv) and General Industry Standard 1910.67(c)(2)(iv) Employees shall always stand firmly on the floor of the basket and shall not sit or climb on the edge of the basket or use planks, ladders, or other devices for a work position.

To lift heavy items safely with a boom truck crane, proper operation is crucial. As the boom lifts and swings the load, the angle and the distance from the load's center of gravity to the crane's tipping axis is constantly changing. These changes can potentially lead to instability, especially if the crane's lift capacity is exceeded, resulting in the truck tipping over or the boom collapsing.

When operating a boom truck crane never lift a load that exceeds the crane’s capacity.

A graphic icon of a crane truck.

Avoid tip-over hazards and struck-by hazards when operating a boom truck. If equipped and required, use outriggers to level and stabilize the truck. Use outriggers, supports, and blocking methods to keep the boom truck stable, as specified by the manufacturer.

Monitor the weather and avoid operating the truck in high winds, storms, or low visibility conditions. Always maintain a safe distance from power lines, buildings, workers, and other equipment.

Avoid placing or storing tools within or on the control panel.

Vehicles must not be placed in motion when the bucket or lift device is extended or raised unless the vehicle is rated for towering operations.

OSHA Construction Standard 1926.453(b)(2)(viii) and General Industry Standard 1910.67(c)(2)(viii) An aerial lift truck may not be moved when the boom is elevated in a working position with men in the basket, except for equipment which is specifically designed for this type of operation.

Ensure all safety devices, including emergency stops and guards, are functional and accessible to the operator before using the boom truck. Set up cones, signs, and other required traffic and pedestrian safety devices.

Become familiar with the specific load capacity of the boom truck being used to prevent overloading and ensure safe operation. Always adhere to the manufacturer’s guidelines regarding weight limits and load distribution.

OSHA Construction Standard 1926.453(b)(2)(vi) and General Industry Standard 1910.67(c)(2)(vi) Boom and basket load limits specified by the manufacturer shall not be exceeded.

Conduct ongoing hazard assessments as work progresses to identify and mitigate new risks that may arise during operation.

A landscaping company using a bucket truck to trim trees.

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