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  • Tellus Underground

Tips for Operating Vacuum Trucks Safely

Hydro-vacs are by far the most popular equipment for excavation and excavations. Manual tools aren’t as efficient, as they take longer to get the job done. Using them also comes with risks, as there’s the chance of unknowingly damaging underground utilities.

Operating these vacuum trucks comes with a lot of responsibility. There are several things to consider with the equipment and the immediate excavation site. But first, let’s take a look at how these excavators work.

How does excavation work?

Using a hydro-vac, you can remove soil with highly pressurized water. This is as opposed to mechanical, solid equipment that could potentially damage underground installations.

Afterwards, an air vacuum attached to the truck transfers the soil and debris to a separate containment tank. This excavation process is ideal for hard soils. However, there are operational requirements to be observed per the law.

Let’s discuss a few of them:

Routine maintenance

As a vacuum truck operator, you must carry out routine maintenance checks of equipment to identify and correct issues long before they become safety hazards.

You can start by checking the tires to ensure they’re aired up nicely and in prime condition. It wouldn’t do to have them fail midway through an operation. You should also check the lights, as many excavation activities are done at night. Leaks, hoses, fittings, and belts are other things for you to examine before you start using the truck closely.

Also, you should lookout for debris buildup that could obstruct the suction. Finally, inspect other crucial components that require basic maintenance.

Provide means of escape

Before excavations begin, you should ensure that there's a safe access way for deep trenches (typically four feet deep, at least).

This escape means cannot be too far away from where the workers are- a maximum of 25 feet away from the actual work site.

Watch for water accumulation

While excavating, you should monitor certain points in the site where water could accumulate. In such areas, you should have precautions to prevent water levels from rising to dangerous levels.

Hydro-vacs have special water removal mechanisms to help remove excess water from waterlogged areas. While draining the water, ensure that it's diverted from the site.

Carry out site inspections

It's important to inspect the job site everyday to identify potential hazards with falls and equipment damage. The latter happens when equipment is placed too close to trench edges.

Workers safety requirements

On-site workers must have basic workplace safety training and the necessary certifications.

They must also be aware of all potential site hazards, and the safety procedures involved in case of emergency.

Workers must wear professional gloves when attempting to remove a blockage from the vacuums, as materials should never be handled with bare hands. Wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) is also necessary to limit the risk of grave injury.

For powerful, cost-effective vacuum excavators that get the job done quicker and save you money, contact us today.


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