People who install and maintain electric, telecommunication and/or cable lines are known as line workers. Most of these personnel are properly trained and skilled in pole-climbing and working from a bucket truck with power lines, exposing themselves to electrocution and other aerial hazards. For example, if a line worker is jolted with electricity and subsequently collapses inside a bucket truck, then foremen, supervisors and other ground crews must have enough knowledge to safely lower that person to the ground in order to administer first aid.
Most personnel working on such lines today use aerial lifts to accomplish power line tasks much faster and more safely. It is very important for them to individually understand the proper safety procedures so that rescue procedures can be administered to save co-worker’s lives if necessary. There are various rescue procedures that can be utilized in the event of an emergency involving the bucket truck.
• Overriding the Upper Control - Superseding the upper control using the lower control is the safest way to lower the bucket and rescue an unconscious employee who has been electrocuted. In cases where lowering the boom cannot be accomplished in this way, the ground crew can use the auxiliary system or bleed the pressure valves in order to lower the boom safely and revive the unconscious worker as quickly as possible.
• Quick Release Device - Extricating an unconscious worker safely from the bucket may require the platform to be lowered to the ground. The bucket quick release device can be activated in order to detach the platform from the boom. When the platform is placed safely on the ground, extricating and administering first aid to the injured person can be better accomplished.
• Harness and Rope - There are cases where lowering the boom by any normal means is impossible. Workers who are injured but not incapacitated can use their harnesses and rope to lower themselves to the ground. Other employees can climb up the pole near the bucket to help the employee be lowered to the ground.
Annual Basic Training
Utility companies should have annual basic training for their workers so they can practice and refresh safety education. Operation managers should watch and guide their personnel as they undergo this drill. Pole top rescue training can be done using simulation with a dummy, making it as close to real life as possible. Each employee can take turns performing the rescue by using both the pole top and aerial bucket truck. Training for a four-person crew with three workers will usually take a full day.
Encouraging Safety Practices
There are several ways to encourage line workers, crews and service personnel to practice safety and give their best effort. One idea is to have employees participate in competitions hosted in nearby communities that are designed for such rescues. The contest will most likely include situations involving an injured ‘dummy’ line person on a pole-top; other workers will call dispatch, climb the forty-foot pole, and climb down bringing the injured ‘dummy’ to the ground. At that time, the personnel take off their climbing gear and administer first aid including CPR within a certain time limit.
Prioritizing safety practices is very important for every utility company. Rescues from aerial bucket trucks should be included in all annual training so workers can be prepared for any emergency scenario. Then these workers will indeed be prepared for any potential aerial bucket truck rescue!