Contractors who use concrete pumps on the jobsite can lower the incidence of a host of manual labor-related safety issues. For instance, concrete pumps have helped eliminate a countless number of back injuries by reducing the need for wheeling, raking and pulling concrete. Pumps also remove the need for stringing together chutes, helping to do away with sprained wrist and shoulder injuries. But to keep your people productive, certain safety practices should be observed when using a concrete pump. Industry and association professionals have shared with us the top safety issues for concrete boom pumps and trailer pumps to help you keep safe while pumping.
Boom pump safety
Power lines are a major concern when using a concrete boom pump, says Christi Collins, executive director for the American Concrete Pumping Association (ACPA), and Chris Hotz of SS&L, Inc. in Omaha, Neb.
Collins says a boom coming in contact with power lines is the number one cause of fatal accidents when using a concrete pump. The ACPA says placing booms should never be operated within 17 feet of working power lines; this is known as the danger zone.
Whether a contractor owns or rents the pump, he needs to be aware of any power lines near the jobsite and inform the pump operator and workers on site of the presence and location of these lines. Everyone on the jobsite should be trained on power line and electricity safety, where the danger zone is, and the purpose of the danger zone.
Collins says when power lines are present a spotter should monitor the movement of the boom and warn the operator away from the danger zone. ?You should never boom over power lines even if it could remain 17 feet away,? Collins adds.
ACPA publishes safety bulletins for boom pump safety, and one of those bulletins focuses specifically on the issue of hose whipping.
?Hose whipping is caused by air that is trapped in the delivery line,? Collins says. When this air is released the end of the hose can whip and cause injury to workers in the area.
It is important to note that air in the delivery system itself is not a hazard. When that air becomes compressed it stores energy, and that is where the risk of hose whipping comes into play.
It is hard to predict exactly when and if hose whipping will occur. ?All personnel should remain a prudent and reasonable distance from the discharge hose when restarting after moving, priming, when air has been introduced into the delivery line, or when a blockage is encountered,? Collins says.
Hose whipping is a danger to anyone within the end-hose movement area, which the bulletin defines as ?the area within the radius of the last flexible (non-steel) piece of delivery system.?
The best way to prevent unnecessary hose whipping accidents is to make sure all the workers are communicating well. In addition, only single-ended hoses should be used on the discharge.
Another safety issue that needs to be monitored when working with boom pumps is tip overs, which are typically caused by outriggers not having enough cribbing or surface area to properly support the unit or allow the outriggers to fully extend, Collins says.
She adds that a contractor needs to be aware of more than just the size of the area. ?The contractor should remove all debris from the set up area and make sure the area is level,? Collins says. Hidden voids or excavations should be clearly marked. It is also essential to make sure the ground conditions can handle the maximum force exerted by the outriggers, Collins adds.
In 2005, the ACPA published a safety bulletin on outriggers. The bulletin suggests that before pumping, the operator should slowly extend the boom over each outrigger. This allows a contractor to see if the outrigger is sinking into the ground, which could cause the unit to tip.
Trailer pump safety
When it comes to using a trailer pump, there are similar and unique safety concerns compared to using a boom pump. Hose whipping is common to both types of pumps. Trailer pumps, like boom pumps, carry a lot of force and the hose can surge and whip if there is a blockage.