Aerial lift devices, also known as bucket trucks or cherry pickers, pose numerous dangers to those who work with them. Inadequate insulation between the ground and the bucket when working near live power lines can result in electrical burns, severe burns from flash fires, shock, or even electrocution. A worker can also be thrown from the bucket or the bucket itself may fall if the bucket or the extension system is poorly designed, so injuries can also include broken bones, spine injuries, brain damage, and death.
There are three general types of aerial lift designs:
- Articulated aerial lift device
- Telescopic aerial lift device
- Digger derrick
Bucket trucks are used primarily in the utility, telecommunications, and tree trimming businesses. They replaced earlier steel man lift devices and, except for digger derrick devices, are made in accordance with ANSI A92.2 standards. But despite this, a study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) indicated that 80% of those who died from electrocution in a bucket truck accident had some electrical training, and that a large percentage of these victims were themselves supervisors.
The most common type of bucket truck accidents are boom contact accidents. These occur when there is unintentional contact between a portion of the bucket truck and a live conductor. If an operator is in contact with a ground source, the bucket truck itself becomes a conduit of electricity and the operator becomes a part of the circuit. The result is usually catastrophic.
In most of these cases, the operator had his hand on the control handle. Many workers don’t realize that the control handle can become energized when the boom, which may become energized along with the metal components in the upper boom area, makes contact with an energized conductor.
A council of the Equipment Manufacturers Institute developed a warning package known as the MADDDC Warnings. Unfortunately, these warnings can lead to operator confusion with regard to the insulating capabilities of aerial lift devices.
If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a bucket truck accident, you should consult with an attorney with considerable expertise and specialization in bucket truck lawsuits. A bucket truck accident attorney must have an understanding of ANSI and OSHA standards, applicable work rules, and the insulating capabilities of various materials. The attorney must also be able to immediately investigate the bucket truck in question’s equipment and systems, safety precautions, maintenance records and your or your loved one’s company’s safety processes and training.