Being a lineman is a demanding job. Most of the time, the work area is located 30 feet or more off the ground. Years ago, these workers would have had to manually scale a utility pole to gain access to the overhead lines and complete the necessary task. Today, despite the risk of working at tall heights and with live wires, this job is considered easier and safer because of the help of the bucket truck.
This truck is also known as a “cherry picker.” It is an aerial device used for lifting workers from the ground to the required working height. As the original name indicates, it was once used for harvesting fruit from the trees in orchards. Its usefulness in aerial tasks eventually caused this vehicle to find its way into many different applications, including that of the electric utility industry.
There are specific job-sites for completing assigned tasks in this industry. Overhead electrical wires can easily become damaged or destroyed from the elements of Mother Nature such as strong wind, hail, rain, etc. Therefore, the need for repair of these lines could happen any time there is a strong storm. If there is damage to the only connection that transmits electricity, a repair person will have to travel to that site with their bucket truck to make the necessary repairs.
The bucket truck contains many tools that are necessary for the job of the linemen. The first job of this vehicle is to get the employee to the job-site. These workers operate on tight schedules, often performing regular maintenance and repair to several different electrical posts in a single day. Many times, the location of the jobs are not close to each other. In order to meet this tight schedule, workers rely on the bucket truck to get them to each site as quickly as possible. This vehicle has an aerial device; yet it drives and handles just like any other truck. This is helpful in getting the repair person to the specific job-site in a timely manner.
Most of the bucket trucks come equipped with a mobile toolbox. If a lineman is going to service a line in a remote location, all the necessary tools and equipment must travel with the worker to save time in completing the job. Transformers and a spool of electrical cable are only a few of the bulky parts that need to be carried along with the worker. This vehicle serves as the perfect carrier for transporting heavy material wherever it is needed.
Another important role that makes the bucket truck the best friend of linemen is its capability to lift them and their equipment directly to the proper height. Without this, the employee would have to manually climb the pole and work on the wires while attached to the pole with a leather belt. Needless to say, the traditional method was slow and dangerous. When climbing up the pole, the employee had to rely upon their legs to get them up and down the pole as well as use those same legs to stabilize themselves while performing the actual task. Almost anything could cause the linemen to slip and fall, leaving them dangling in mid-air. Only the physically fit employees could truly handle this job in the past!
With the aid of the bucket truck, linemen can now access overhead lines with minimal effort using the truck’s hydraulic lift. Their risk of falling or electrocution has been greatly reduced when compared to the former manual act of climbing the pole; the linemen are now securely located inside an insulated bucket. A safety harness is also worn by workers and is attached to the bucket in case of accidental slippage. This equipment is usually carried right inside the bucket with the employee. For any other less common or bulkier equipment, it can be lifted via an extension jib to the required working height.
As can be seen, there are now many ways that the bucket truck eases the job of linemen. Even more importantly, safety has been greatly increased for the workers with this vehicle. It is no wonder that linemen consider the bucket truck their “best friend!”