Utility - Bucket Rescue

Learning objectives

  • Identify the job requirements and responsibilities for bucket rescue
  • Explain the procedures for bucket tilt rescue
  • Explain the procedures for non-tilt bucket rescue
  • Explain the procedures for digger derrick bucket rescue
  • Describe additional safety procedures for bucket rescue

Course overview

Electrical work, frequently performed in an aerial lift, is extremely hazardous. It is important to be prepared to positively respond to accidents occurring when working at heights around power lines because, each year, there are numerous recorded accidents that suggest the very possibility of being involved in such an event. Experienced utility linemen have heard the stories or, worse, have witnessed the hazards firsthand. Many electrical workers make their living in buckets and they need to know how to lookout for colleagues in the event of a bucket accident.

When two people are working in a double bucket, and one of them gets hurt, the second person in the bucket must take charge of the situation to care for the coworker and keep him or herself safe in the process. If both workers in the double bucket are injured, or one worker is in the bucket, then the ground worker must take charge while looking for possible obstructions or hazards, and quickly decide which type of rescue action will result in the best possible outcome. These scenarios are unpredictable by nature—after all, we’re talking about accidents—but an understanding of the appropriate basic response, and training for such a procedure, may save a life.

Bucket Tilt

The “bucket tilt” procedure is the quickest, safest rescue method, and should be used whenever possible. Because even when a truck is grounded, it can still carry lethal amperage that will result in touch or step potential situation. A ground worker must be trained to make sure the truck has not come into contact with the line and is not energized before approaching or touching the truck. After verifying the truck is not energized, the ground worker should go to the radio and call for help. As they proceed to the radio, they should also call loudly for help.

After the worker radioed for help, they go to the lower controls and use them to lower the victim, or victims, careful to move the bucket down, steering clear of any hazards. If there are obstructions such as tree limbs or wires that could slow down the decent, the worker should not hesitate to remove the obstruction, cutting dead wires or sawing limbs and branches.

Workers’ Playbook for Rescuing the Victim

  1. If the bucket will tilt, raise it about 6 inches so that it can be tilted.

  2. Pull the tilt-locking pin and use the handle to tilt the bucket.

  3. When lifting the victim out of the bucket, make sure that they are facing up so the worker’s knees will bend as you pull them out of the bucket.

  4. Once the victim is out of the bucket, check for response.

  5. If there is no response, start CPR and continue until help arrives.

When working with a two or three person crew situation, using a single bucket that does not tilt, it is very difficult to pull an unconscious two hundred pound victim from the bottom of a bucket. The utility truck should be equipped with a rescue block pack; this special set of blocks will allow a worker to pull a victim from the bucket more easily.

Safe Rescue Procedure

Safety professional should remind utility workers that if a co-worker up in a bucket must be rescued, the first thing to do is get some help coming their way. Then, after verifying the truck is not energized, go to the radio and use the proper procedure for the area. First, the worker should identify themselves, and then give the location along with a description of the situation. They are not to leave the radio until confirming help is on the way.

Workers then turn to the emergency override boom controls, remembering the need to push the bypass button or reposition a control handle to control the bucket from the ground. It is important they check the area for hazards and carefully lower the bucket to the catwalk.

The boom must end up perpendicular to the ground; with the rescue block pack above the victim, the rescue worker then pulls the release ring or lanyard on the rescue pack, releasing the rescue blocks and the fall line. The rescue blocks are extended down to the victim, the safety lanyard is released, and the hook of the blocks is attached to the D ring of the harness. Workers then move the bucket away from the catwalk, about 5 to 6 feet.

The next step is to use the fall line to pull the victim out of the bucket. The angle created between rescue blocks and the bucket allows the victim to swing clear from the bucket. Once the victim clears the bucket, they must be carefully lowered to the ground, where appropriate first aid can be safely administered. Use of bucket rescue techniques combined with knowledge of CPR can, and does, save lives.

Because of the aerial lift equipment used by high-risk electrical workers, these employees may find themselves in a position of service to the general community with an opportunity to save another life. In that event, some of these same principles may be applicable.

  • 20 minutes
  • Format: Online Interactive
  • English
Course Outline
  • Introduction
  • Job Requirements and Responsibilities
  • Bucket Tilt Rescue
  • Non-Tilt Bucket Rescue
  • Digger Derrick Bucket Rescue
  • Bucket Rescue Safety Procedures
  • 29 CFR 1910 Subpart R - Special Industries - 1910.269(a) Training
  • 29 CFR 1910 Subpart R - Special Industries - 1910.269(a) Qualified Employee
  • 29 CFR 1910 Subpart F - Powered Platforms, Manlifts, and Vehicle-Mounted Work Platforms - 1910.67 Vehicle-mounted elevating and rotating work platforms
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