Regular inspections are one of a company’s best courses of action in starting a maintenance program for their bucket trucks. Companies that own these versatile vehicles may consider a routine maintenance program as an additional unnecessary cost. In time, these same businesses may come to learn that a maintenance program including regular inspections is actually a way to save money. Such a program allows for problems to be detected at an early stage; this will spare a company large costs due to repairs and/or replacement of broken parts.
There are three agencies who conduct annual inspections of bucket trucks to ensure that this equipment is free from defects and safety threats. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Department of Transportation (DOT), and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) implement the required standards for: well-functioning equipment; work-site safety at work; and the protection of workers. Following are some examples of vehicle inspections conducted by these three governmental regulatory agencies that must be done.
• DOT Structural Requirements - Bucket trucks should have a well-functioning body structure at all times. The structural inspection of these vehicles is a requirement that is given great importance. This testing should be performed on all of the 13 areas of the equipment which includes: the chassis, pedestal, outriggers, rotation bearings, turntable, lower and upper boom, digger, and bucket or platform. Other general parts that are included in the structural examination are the load rating chart and operation placards. DOT also requires that the structural inspection can only be performed by their approved, licensed professionals.
• OSHA Acoustic Requirements - The industry standard examination that is conducted for the steel and fiberglass structure of bucket trucks is referred to as an acoustic inspection; this is a requirement by OSHA. This type of examination is performed to detect any unusual noises within the steel and fiber structure of the truck. Sensors are attached from the boom down to the outriggers; the bucket is then loaded with 100 to 150 percent more than the load limit specifications of the manufacturer. The computer to which the sensors are connected will interpret the sound data that has been gathered and use this data to verify the rating, which is automatically generated by the computer.
• ANSI AC or DC Tests - AC or DC dielectric is an annual inspection of the truck to test its function and operation which is required by ANSI. This requirement includes the DOT’s inspection since it is considered as an AC or DC test. ANSI also performs other tests such as the thickness of the mechanical body parts, stability examinations and oil spectro-analysis.
Becoming familiar with the manufacturer’s instructions for the operation and control of the truck is very important as well. For example, referring to the manual about the correct type of engine oil to use will help prolong the life of the engine. Operators will also be able to familiarize themselves with where other accessories, such as emergency cones, first aid kits, or fire extinguishers, are placed in the vehicle.
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