Seven years ago, a lineman was working in a bucket to change out an insulator on the middle phase of a three-phase line. He positioned his bucket between the center and outside phase to perform the work live. The transformer's stinger was connected to one of the phases. The lineman had his back to this stinger, which carried the same voltage as the main line. As he moved around in the bucket, his shoulder came dangerously close to brushing the stinger.
If he would have come in contact with the stinger, he could've been electrocuted. Fortunately, a lineman working down on the ground yelled up to the lineman to stop what he was doing, turn around and look at what was behind him. When he saw how close he was to the bucket, he repositioned his bucket, moved to a safer place and then finished his work.
Right then and there, the lineman on the ground was struck with inspiration. After seeing his friend almost get seriously injured or even killed, he tried to think of a product that would prevent that situation from ever happening again.
From Prototype to Commercial Product
At that point, he got the idea for a shield that could be tucked into a bucket just like a tool board. When he got back to the office, he met with a mechanic at Cookson Hills Electric Cooperative. That night, he made the original prototype out of particle board in his workshop. His friend then made another model out of old bucket liner.
The lineman and the mechanic then went to Oklahoma City to meet with a custom fiberglass manufacturing company, which made the prototype. They named the product the Archangel Safety Shield and then applied for a patent.
Afterwards, they approached Hastings, which supplies hot line equipment to Cookson Hills Electric Cooperative. After seeing the product in action, the president of Hastings said he didn't see any reason why the product shouldn't be in every bucket in the United States. He and his company then worked with them to commercialize the shield and launch it as the Bucket Barricade.
As part of the inventor's negotiations with Hastings, the manufacturer outfitted all nine of the coop's bucket trucks with the Bucket Barricade. This device helps to protect the field crews from danger as well as heavy rain, snow or wind.
Protection and Easy Storage
Unlike the original prototype, the commercial version can retract and fit down inside the bucket just like a car window that can go up and down.
Rather than just being another piece of equipment in a bucket, the shield can be pulled out easily with one hand to be used and then be put out of sight. The shield is actually built into the tool board and is protected in a sleeve. Users can lock the shield into three different positions and store an assortment of tools that hangs inside the bucket.
The shield is made from polycarbonate, which is impact-resistant and dielectric so it won't conduct electricity. That way, it will protect linemen when they are changing out potentially dangerous equipment that can explode and shatter pieces on workers. In addition, oil-filled transformers also can ignite and spray hot oil at linemen working in a bucket. If they use the Bucket Barricade, however, they won't be hit with the brunt of the blow.
Using the Bucket Barricade, linemen can work longer in the bucket because they're more comfortable, protected and safe. Also, because it is easy to use and stows away down inside the tool board, they can always have it by their side to protect them from harm.
Brian Jackson (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a lineman for Cookson Hills Electric in Sallisaw, Oklahoma. He has been a lineman for 11 years. He worked with Wayne Honeycutt, a mechanic at the company, to develop the Bucket Barricade.
Cookson Hills Electric Cooperative www.cooksonhills.com