Forestry bucket trucks belong to the family of lifting vehicles, but it has a unique function. It is used only for forestry work, like cutting or trimming heavy trees in danger of causing damage. A forestry bucket truck is able to lift higher than other types of lifting trucks, so it must always maintain perfect balance to prevent tipping. It is also important that the truck body be able to withstand being hit by a falling object without damage being caused to the frame. Because of their niche use, forestry bucket trucks have to be able to move easily and be big enough to hold both a worker and all of his or her needed tools. In order to protect people working on these trucks, forestry bucket truck safety is of utmost importance.
There is danger associated with the work this type of truck is used for, which is why forestry bucket truck safety is so important. To prevent injury to either the truck or the vehicle, the truck operator must be will trained in every aspect of its use, including driving. During training, the operator should understand all of the truck's safety features and know where to find the emergency kit, fire extinguisher, and all other safety features. The biggest part of forestry bucket truck safety is being aware of potential dangers before they are encountered and knowing how to avoid them. Some of the dangers include malfunctioning equipment or dangerous work areas that could cause injury to the worker or vehicle if the lift is operated. Each company that owns and operates this type of vehicle should have safety standards that employees thoroughly understand so they will know how to behave in any type of situation. There are a few universal rules regarding forestry truck bucket safety. Anyone driving or riding in the vehicle should always use the safety belts while the truck is in motion. Horseplay in the truck is unacceptable, and the truck should never be driven on the side slopes of a ramp. Once the boom and bucket are elevated, the truck should not be in motion at all. It is also important that the lifting capacity limits are always strictly adhered to. The forestry bucket truck manual provides important details about that specific truck and will outline all of the most important safety features and restrictions. Before anyone operates the vehicle, he or she should thoroughly read the manual and make sure that it is understood.
The aerial bucket truck is a specially designed vehicle equipped with large hydraulic booms and buckets that are used to provide a stable platform when working at tall heights. Due to the nature of the truck's use and the risks involved when working at such heights, an important and mandatory element that should also be accomplished prior to use is to inspect the vehicle to make sure that it is safe for lifting passengers.
The inspection of the vehicle before operation should never be overlooked or rushed. There should actually be three inspections on a bucket truck every time that it is used: pre-operation walk-around at the home facility; pre-driving powered check; and work-site inspection. Following is some detailed information regarding these three operational inspections
Pre-Operational Walk-Around - Prior to powering up the vehicle, the operator should visually check the parts of the vehicle for any obvious sign of damage or wear that could cause failure during operation. Following is a list of the important truck components that should be inspected during the pre-operational walk-around.
Tires- Check all the tires on the truck for under or over inflation. Use a tire pressure gauge to make sure that the air inside all the tires is appropriate for the intended usage. Look for any deep cuts around the tires that would result in rupturing during operation. Remember that the tires provide the primary means of support for the bucket truck, so they should always be well inflated and balanced.
Hydraulic Components - Look for leaking hydraulic fluid around the truck's hydraulic system. Leaks could appear as damp areas near hose connections and on the hydraulic ram dust seals. Check the level of hydraulic fluid and make sure that it is still within the normal prescribed levels.
Engine - Check the engine's oil level and belts, including the radiator's cooling fluid.
Batteries - Check the battery's positive and negative terminals and make sure the wires are properly attached and the terminals are not corroded.
Boom - Check the boom for alignment. It should be straight without any cracks or bends.
Articulated Joints - Check for cracks and signs of excessive wear such as metal shavings or rust.
Powered Checks - This is an inspection that is performed while the engine is running to be sure that the following gauges and controls are properly functioning.
Oil Pressure Gauge - Make sure that the oil pressure inside the engine is within prescribed operating limits. This is important since the engine provides the power needed to operate the hydraulic system.
Battery Functionality - Check any gauges to be sure that the battery is charging while the engine is running.
Platform Controls - Test the hydraulic lift's functions and be sure that everything is properly functioning.
Outriggers - Test the outriggers and make sure that each one deploys properly.
Work-site Inspection - Once at the work-site, it is also important to make sure that the area is safe for proper operation of the bucket truck and all its component parts.
Overhead Obstruction - Make sure there is nothing that could obstruct the lift during its lifting operation.
Power Cables - Always keep the work area free from power cables to avoid possible contact with them and the potential for electrocution.
Bad Weather - Do not operate the lift during lightning storms or during strong winds except in very rare instances that may arise during rescue operations.
Pot Holes - Make sure the vehicle does not have any tire sitting in a pot hole. The outriggers must also be deployed on a stable surface, such as cement or asphalt, to avoid tipping and this should also be carefully checked
Pedestrians and Traffic - When working near traffic routes or sidewalks, always divert traffic and pedestrians so the bucket can operate safely without any moving obstacles.
The inspection of a bucket truck should be done by the vehicle's operator since that person is expected to be knowledgeable about the vehicle components and their performance. Any problem components on the truck should be noticeable to the truck operator. Any inspections should also be performed in a well-lit and well-ventilated area to maximize visibility and carbon monoxide poisoning caused by gas from the vehicle's exhaust. All of these safety suggestions and hints should ensure safe operation of the bucket truck and safety for everyone near the vehicle!
Inspector General confirms Oregon forestry contractors improperly hired 254 foreign workers with stimulus funds; DeFazio demands Dept. of Labor address failings
WASHINGTON, DC – Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Springfield) released an Office of Inspector General (IG) report that found federal stimulus funds were awarded to contractors who underbid competition by using foreign laborers. DeFazio asked for the OIG review after the Bend Bulletin reported that several companies that were awarded Forest Service contracts, then filed H-2B applications to use foreign workers for the contracts rather than Oregon workers. “The goal of the stimulus bill was to put Americans back to work, not foreign nationals. It is obscene that U.S. companies were rewarded for abusing our American workers and immigration laws to undercut competition and squeeze more profits out of contracts,” said DeFazio. “Oregonians have been logging for over a century, our workforce is one of the best in the world, and these contracts should have been awarded to companies that hire Oregon loggers. This report confirms that federal and state agencies failed to properly oversee the contracts and the companies investigated exploited federal loopholes to avoid hiring American workers. The Department of Labor must address the failings identified in the IG’s report.”
The full report can be read here: http://www.oig.dol.gov/cgi-bin/oa_rpts.cgi?s=&y=fy92012&a=all
In 2010, the Bend Bulletin ran a series of articles highlighting possible H-2B Visa irregularities related to Forest Service contacts in central Oregon funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
The H-2B non-agricultural temporary worker program allows U.S. employers to bring foreign nationals to the United States to fill temporary nonagricultural jobs. Federal regulations require that employers who file H-2B petitions must include a certification from the Department of Labor (DOL) stating that qualified workers are not available in the U.S. and that the foreign worker’s employment will not adversely affect wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers.
DeFazio asked the DOL Inspector General (IG) to review DOL’s certification of these the H-2B applications in question for any improprieties.
Issues of concern included:
–How it was possible that federal contractors paying prevailing wages in rural Oregon – which has suffered from long-term double digit unemployment – cannot find Oregonians to take these forestry jobs?
–Given the ease that the Bend Bulletin found Oregonians ready to work in the woods, is the H-2B Visa program being used to undercut the competition?
-According to U.S. Forest Service, the four employers reviewed were awarded 14 Recovery Act contracts totaling $7,140,782 for forestry work in Oregon. The employers hired 254 foreign workers for jobs in Oregon through the H2B program.
Forestry Contractor Failures
- Only two Oregonians were listed on the employer recruitment reports, indicating that workers in Oregon were likely unaware these job opportunities were available.
-The OIG found that although 146 U.S. workers were contacted by the four employers regarding possible employment and 29 received job offers, none were hired. Instead, 254 foreign workers were brought into Oregon for these jobs.
-According to interviews with workers, the OIG found that the employers used discouraging language such as references to age and the ability to speak additional languages in their recruiting process. Neither reference was a job requirement of H-2B applications
-The OIG found that the employers used a loophole in the H2B process that allowed them to avoid hiring U.S. workers by submitting their H2B applications to other states. U.S. workers were deliberately dissuaded from taking these jobs because they were short term and far from home.
Dept of Labor Failures
-The OIG audit identified that current H2B regulations permit a four month gap between U.S. worker recruitment/job offer and the job start date. Unsurprisingly, U.S. workers are unlikely to wait four month to start a temporary job, either by rejecting the job offer or finding another job that starts sooner. Employers take advantage of this to claim they cannot hire U.S. workers. DOL has proposed to reduce this to three months and require employers to continue to accept U.S. worker applications up until the job start date.
-DOL regulations required employers to post a job order and newspaper advertisement in the state of initial employment only, regardless of where subsequent work would be performed. Six of nine H-2B applications OIG reviewed included work in Oregon, but because the work began in other states all the job ads for work in Oregon were posted in other states.
State Workforce Agency Failures
-The OIG found certain State Workforce Agencies (SWA) did not fulfill their responsibilities, and DOL could improve its oversight and monitoring to better protect the interests of U.S. workers under the regulations.
-OIG found that the five SWAs reviewed did not transmit posted job orders to Oregon or other states where work was occurring, and three SWAs were not making job referrals to employers — both H-2B requirements.
From cutting down trees to transporting tons of logs, forestry has become an big business involving the management, utilization, and development of woodlands as natural sources of timber. With the enormous amount of energy needed to complete such operations, the biggest team of woodsmen is no match to the efficiency and economy of using forestry trucks.
Safety with Forestry Trucks
So imagine this: the painstaking task of tree trimming done with conventional ladders or ropes by dozens of workers would look too dangerous even to an untrained eye. The very act of balancing ladders against the trees—some of which may be unstable enough as they sway with strong winds—is indeed a very risky effort to do, not to mention the enormous amount of time consumed without the help of modern machines.
Just like bucket trucks are designed to operate in urban areas, forestry trucks are, in essence, bucket trucks specially designed to carry workers off the ground at more extended heights. The telescopic boom attached to the truck's platform is powered with either hydraulics or pneumatics mechanism, which allows the boom to extend to greater heights, providing workers easy access to the higher sections of the trees where dead branches and potentially dangerous parts have to be removed before the trees are cut down for transportation. Another type of forestry truck, the transportation truck, is mainly used to transport tons of logs from one area to another location.
To ensure safety and protection from potential dangers, the boom mounted on the back of the truck is designed to adjust to different heights, allowing workers to gain better access to different types of trees, which vary greatly in height and form. Plus, the entire structure of the truck alone is enhanced to withstand impacts possibly caused by falling trees or branches.
The greatest advantages you'll reap from investing on these forestry trucks are safety and economy of operations. With forestry trucks, labor costs are substantially reduced and a safer working environment is maintained. Thus, the amount of investment you spend on these forestry trucks is indeed worthwhile.
When purchasing forestry trucks, it is important to take note of the specifications that should function well with the amount of workload your business foresees. For example, a forestry truck with a longer boom would be ideal when it comes to working with taller trees.