I can still remember how my friend differentiated between being knowledgeable and being wise. He said, “Being knowledgeable is like knowing that tomato is a fruit andVacuum_Truck being wise is not mixing the tomato in your fruit salad!” Not to sound too humorous here; yet something similar is happening to some operators who have a high-performance vacuum truck and are knowledgeable about using this vehicle – but maybe not wise! Knowing about vacuum trucks and being wise in their usage can be two different things

Successful Vacuum Truck Performance

When using a vacuum truck, it is important to know all of its basic information. This truck can perform at peak functioning when it is used under the correct conditions. An operator doesn’t need to have a degree in physics to understand any of the “laws” and “theories” concerning a vacuum; however, they do need to apply some basic principles so the vehicle can work efficiently.

Basic Vacuum Truck Principles

Vacuum truck operators should become familiar with this powerful vehicle and learn some of the key points on how this equipment can function efficiently. The following are examples of these key points that should be remembered.

  • Appropriate Hose Diameter – It is important to know that just a very little difference in the hose diameter could greatly impact the length of time to complete the task. It is also important to not change the hose in the middle of a job; it is inefficient to do this as well and places the operator in great danger.
  • Vacuum Release – It is valuable to become familiar with the vacuum release and the inline “T” for safety purposes. There are three areas of release available with the vacuum truck which includes the inline “T” and the remote and manual releases.
  • Dry and Wet Material – Don’t ever mix dry and wet material The risk of a potentially deadly chemical reaction could occur from this action

Operator Requirements

Vacuum truck operators should be trained and certified. The operator must know and abide by all OSHA regulations for safety and hazards; must be well-informed with emergency procedures; be properly oriented about the specific work site; and be physically and mentally healthy.

Inspection Checklist

Every vacuum truck operator should have a checklist of important items that need to be checked prior to beginning any job. Following is an example of what such a list should include. It is not meant to be all-inclusive but does include many important things to be inspected.

1. Truck controls

  • Check for the safe condition of: seats, windows, doors, steps, mirrors, gauges and tires.
  • Check for proper functioning of all lights and signals: headlights (both high and low beam), tail lights, backing lights and turn signals
  • Check for a working back-up alarm…
  • Only a licensed and trained operator should be allowed to drive and operate the truck.

2. Vacuum system

  • Check the vacuum operating controls or transfer system; the marked gauges and all valves for proper functioning and position placement away from vents and in a safe area.
  • Check to be sure that the grounding or bonding system is properly in place and in use. The system should meet the standards of CSA electrical engineering and use only proper service rated hoses.
  • Check the Ignition sources control (for diesel engines – positive air shut-off).

3. Vacuum tank

  • Check the tank ventilation for adequate size and length of vent lines.
  • Check that the tank has functioning relief devices and are set according to the manufacturer’s specifications.
  • Check for appropriate tank certification; payloads being transported according to the tank design; and payloads being carried only as designated either wet or dry.

This is only a guide. As an operator, it is best to consult authorities who have comprehensive information and a designed checklist for the vacuum truck. Be wise with a vacuum truck and carefully inspect it before every job!