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Back to It’s highly

in vacuum
operations to
have two hose
handlers working

together to relieve
one another
during the job.

Keep these key points in mind and you’ll

increase safety and productivity
in your vacuum truck operations

By Phil Stein

f you attend a drag race, do you walk importance of changing from one hose
down from the stands, climb behind size to another and the impact of their
the wheel and run a top-fuel dragster decisions. Just how much impact can a
down a quarter-mile straightaway in slight change in diameter make? In semi-
four or five seconds at 320 miles per nars, I show operators the difference
hour? between a 1/4-inch hose and a 3/8-inch
Not likely, and certainly not without hose. I connect each hose to a mustard
proper training with the powerful jar and see how quickly each jar loads.
machine you are operating. Yet some- You might think that since the 3/8-inch
thing similar happens ever yday as hose is half again as large in diameter, it
vacuum truck operators man high-per- would vacuum the contents 50 percent
formance trucks, sometimes with limited faster than the 1/4-inch hose. Instead,
knowledge. the jar loads nine times faster with the
Why is it that two operators can per- 3/8-inch hose!
form the same job with the same truck,
same age, same style, and achieve two 2. Hose diameter is also para-
very different results? Chances are that mount in getting the most out of
only one is making best use of his equip- your truck.
ment under the proper conditions and in Changing hose diameters along the blow through it. Not difficult. Then try to operators. Here are a few vacuum trucks
the safest manner to maximize what the length of the suction hose is not only inef- do the same with a 7-foot length of the safety points to keep in mind when on
truck can do. That operator is saving his ficient — it can cause hoses to stop up. If same hose. Your eyes will probably bug the job:
company time and money with greater you start off with an 8-inch hose that the out trying to push air through to the other
efficiency. operator runs 100 feet, and then change side. This gives you some idea of how 1. The tank is a confined space.
Most truck operators do not have to a 4-inch hose, the speed of the air at hard your machine has to work. It doesn’t An operator may be handling toxic
degrees in physics, nor should they. the start of the 4-inch hose is deafening. matter if the air is being sucked or blown chemicals. If he enters the tank to make a
However, unless they understand some The truck is being asked to suction an through a hose, it still suffers from friction repair, he might be overcome by fumes.
fairly basic principles of physics, they amount of air designed to go into an 8- loss. There is only one way in and one way out
cannot make the trucks perform at peak inch hose at full throttle, but only through of the tank, so it is a confined space in the
efficiency, and they may put themselves a 4-inch opening. The material flies 4. Smooth-bore hoses almost truest sense. Don’t enter a tank when
in very real physical danger. through the hose at 4 inches. Then, when always work better. there are chemicals inside.
Drainage system polyethylene hose is
a corrugated pipe that is lightweight and 2. An inline “T” and vacuum
easy to handle, but long lengths of this release can help ensure safety.
Safety is just as important on the job as productivity — hose/pipe can devastate the perform- There are three release areas avail-
in fact, even more so. Unfortunately, I see many of the ance of your truck. An operator can get able with a truck, including a remote
by with a drainage system hose on a release, a manual release near the truck
same mistakes and same problems today as six or short job, but on a longer and tougher itself, and an inline “T.” I believe all three
seven years ago, especially with new operators. job, a smooth-bore hose may be neces- safety releases should be standard equip-
sary. The majority of your hose length ment on vacuum trucks. The larger the
should be smooth-bore pipe or rubber diameter of the hose, the bigger the force
hose. Only the last section of hose at the you have. If an 8-inch hose gets stuck to
Staying Productive it enters the 8-inch section, the speed of working end could be the lightweight your body at 27 inches Hg, it can be fatal.
Productivity with vacuum trucks is air is reduced, and material clogs up the polyethylene corrugated hose. An inline “T” is the mechanical device
critical. Here are a few key points every hose. This is a very common mistake placed in the hose that kills the vacuum
operator would do well to keep in mind. operators make. Staying safe in the hose.
They are not all you need to know, but I Safety is just as important on the job Injuries also occur because some
always stress them in my seminars. 3. Performance decreases as fric- as productivity — in fact, even more so. users do not install the in-line relief and
tion loss increases. Unfortunately, I see many of the same may be working too far away from the
1. Hose diameter is very important. Hold a 7-inch-long hose with a 1/4- mistakes and same problems today as six truck to quickly access the pendant
Operators need to understand the inch diameter to your mouth and try to or seven years ago, especially with new (remote) or manual relief on the truck. I
recommend that classroom settings, at one time I used
the in-line “T” be water and Alka Seltzer to demonstrate
installed between what could happen when two seemingly
the very last sec- safe products were mixed. I would put
tion of hose and water in a jar fitted with a pressure gauge
the working sec- and add eight tablets of Alka Seltzer. One
tion of hose. The day it blew the jar apart — there was no
cord that releas- place for the pressure to escape — and I
es the in-line had to discontinue that demonstration.
relief should be But the point remains: Who knows
tethered to the what might happen in a tank full of wet
hose handler’s and dry materials that happen to act like
belt, or a watch water and Alka Seltzer? The only excep-
Tip Top Relief Valve buddy should be tion to this safety rule might be in a situa-
from Bandlock. nearby holding tion where acid is to be neutralized with a
the cord and known chemical like bicarbonate of
ready to relieve in the event of an emer- soda. This is a common activity in the
gency. It’s practically an industry-wide chemical cleaning industry. In that case,
practice to have two hose handlers work- the operator knows what he is doing and
ing together to relieve one another while why, and so should not have trouble
working. Nearly every injury in our indus- working safely.
try occurs because these three devices
aren’t working or aren’t operative. If all Being vigilant
three are working, you won’t have injuries. Today’s high-powered vacuum trucks
can give an operator a false sense of
3. Always ground the truck. security. They are very forgiving perform-
Grounding is important for any prod- ance-wise, even when not used properly.
uct an operator uses. You might be suck- But in the end, performance relates
ing grain dust, and static electricity could directly to the operator’s knowledge and
trigger a dust explosion. Air movers care. Knowledge of your truck and com-
should never be used on anything being mon safety measures will aid perform-
removed with a temperature flash point of ance and prevent serious accidents.
140 degrees or less. That has been Phil Stein of Guzzler Manufacturing
accepted as an industry standard. gives vacuum truck training seminars to
audiences across North America. He
4. Wet and dry material should presented his “Vacuum Truck Operators’
never be mixed. Training Preview” program at the 2002
In most cases, an operator does not Pumper and Cleaner Environmental
know what chemical reaction may occur Expo International. ■ Truck operators face special safety issues when working in residential or urban
if wet and dry materials are mixed. In environments.

© 2002, COLE Publishing Inc.

Reprinted with permission from Pumper, July 2002
COLE Publishing Inc., P.O. Box 220, Three Lakes, WI 54562
800-257-7222 /