Using a Vacuum Excavation Truck Safely
In honor of the National Construction Safety Week campaign, we want to share some tips on how to safely use a vacuum excavation truck.
- Educate and train the staff on the proper way to operate the truck and equipment.
- Job Site Safety
- Wear the proper PPE including long pants, Class III Safety Vests and/or Shirts, hard hats, gloves, safety glasses/face shield, etc.
- Know the surroundings by keeping in mind of above ground obstacles/utility lines, traffic, safety cones, proper signage, and covering/fencing off open holes.
- Maintain a safe distance during operations such as when dumping the spoils, while using the air lance, and near open holes.
- Avoid using excessive force or pressure. Using excessive force or pressure could damage more fragile utilities.
- Traveling safely.
- Understand and follow all state and local DOT restrictions, permits, and licenses.
- Keep the truck clean and organized.
- Always be aware of your surroundings while backing up.
- Perform routine maintenance and equipment checks to keep the truck in working condition.
The biggest safety hazards we face while digging:
- Traffic. Traffic. Traffic. Make sure to wear the proper PPE, namely Class III Safety Vests or Shirts so any incoming vehicles can spot you easily. Always have the proper traffic control and signage to notify oncoming traffic of your work.
- Overhead Utility Lines or Obstructions. Make sure the boom of the truck does not collide with any overhead utility lines or obstructions.
- Sink Holes and/or Open Holes. Be wary of any sink holes that might be created while using an excavation truck. Sink holes are normally created when the company who installed the utility did not properly backfill and/or compact the backfill material. If you create an open hole and are preparing to leave for the day, use the proper materials to safely cover the open hole and use the proper signage, cones, and fencing to safely block off the area.
- Damaging Utilities. Be wary of the utility type and composition when digging. The air pressure from the lance or the weight of the vacuum hose can damage fragile or older utilities.
- Air Lance and Vacuum. The pressurized force of the air lance is powerful and the truck’s vacuum suction is immensely strong, do not stand directly in the path of either tool and always inspect prior to use