Stay Safe When Using a Hydraulic Dump Body

There are various scenarios in which you might use a hydraulic dump body in the course of tree maintenance work. A dump truck can contain a large amount of debris after trimming trees or removing storm debris, and haul it safely to a dump site. 

A hydraulic dump truck uses a liquid-filled hoist systems to lift the bed of the truck--the dump body--to empty it. Applying force to the fluid in one place increases pressure in the rest of the confined system, allowing the pistons and cylinders to operate smoothly. (The physics behind this relies on Pascal’s Law, for you science fans.)

When you use it correctly, a hydraulic dump truck can make the work of unloading heavy materials much easier. This relatively simple system can lift tens of thousands of pounds.
However, working with something capable of lifting that much weight comes with risks. Learn how to stay safe when using a hydraulic dump body.

Wear the Correct PPE

As with any task involved in tree maintenance, personal protective equipment can mean the difference between a great day and a tragic one. When you work with heavy machinery, including hydraulic dump trucks, always wear a safety helmet, safety glasses, work boots, work gloves, and ear protection. Make sure all of your PPE fits correctly and meets regulations. Check your equipment regularly for signs of wear or upcoming expiration dates. Always use the correct products to clean your equipment and never alter it, drill holes in it, or compromise its integrity in any way. If you take care of your PPE, it will take care of you.

Follow Manufacturer Warnings

Always follow precautions when loading or emptying a dump body. When you fill it, whether with tree cuttings, wood chips, firewood, or mulch, center the load as much as possible. Uneven weight poses a tipping hazard. Never fill the body beyond its intended capacity.

The truck manufacturer will recommend extra precautions any time you have the truck bed in a raised position. This is because raising the bed changes the truck’s center of gravity, thus increasing the risk that it could tip over. Make sure everyone on the job site adheres to precautions when raising the dump body.

When working around the truck, stay alert to safety alarms. Also, adhere to manufacturer guidelines when conducting inspections or replacing any parts. We will talk more about maintenance below.

Watch for Power Lines and Other Hazards

The presence of power lines presents a hazard for any large equipment. With dump trucks, take extra precaution, as raising the dump body may bring it higher than you estimate and into contact with power lines.

Other hazards include high winds, which can blow out cargo or even threaten the stability of the truck, and heavy rain, which can increase the weight of the payload. Watch out for uneven ground when parking the truck, especially when you will be unloading it. You might install a berm or other indicator to let the driver know where to stop.

Maintain Hydraulic Dump Trucks According to Regulations

The greatest dangers with hydraulic dump bodies occur during maintenance. According to OSHA, “Performing maintenance work underneath the dump body of a dump truck presents extraordinary hazards to maintenance or servicing personnel.” An unintended release or movement of the truck bed will almost certainly result in death. Never conduct maintenance on a dump truck unless you are qualified to do so. 

Damage can occur to hydraulic hoses or motors, or to electrical lines, making it necessary for someone to reach underneath the hydraulic dump body while it is elevated. Always prop up the dump body using the manufacturer’s prop, and never use your body to stop hydraulic leaks. The truck should be equipped with a permanently attached means of support. NEVER place your body between the dump body and the truck frame without an approved support device in place. Makeshift props may not fully support the weight or may shift during use. If a prop does not sufficiently lift the body, check with the manufacturer to see if they offer an alternative prop or to get their other recommendations. 

Hydraulic dump bodies and trucks provide necessary assistance in the business of tree maintenance. It’s crucial to understand the hazards they pose, however, and to follow safety precautions. With the right knowledge and equipment you can reduce the risks.

Posted: 12/26/2019 12:00:00 PM by Global Administrator