?Whoever is manning the hose tip needs to be very careful. You want to have a controlled access zone around the pumping area in case the hose gets away from the operator so that they don?t get sprayed with concrete and the hose doesn?t whip and hit somebody,? says Ron Meschko, director of safety and risk management at Allen Concrete Pumping, Naples, Fla.
Hose whipping is also a concern when cleaning out the pump at the end of a job, Meschko adds. When employees attend Allen Concrete Pumping?s safety training one topic covered is blowout safety. ?This is a situation where air pressure is built up and compressed behind the concrete as the concrete is being pushed through the hose. When the concrete is finally released at the end of the hose, the result is often a violent whip and concrete shooting at an uncontrolled high velocity,? he says.
A trailer pump adds another area of safety concerns, namely the trailer. Meschko says his employees are trained to perform a proper trailer walk-around inspection. ?Trailer pumps need to be maintained and in good working order before they are hauled anywhere,? he says. This includes checking that the trailer is securely attached, hitches are in working condition, all lights and breaks are working, and the tires are properly inflated and have an appropriate amount of tread.
Greg Kerns, field operations manager for Bell and Cook Masonry Inc., Fort Myers, Fla., says employees recheck their trailer pumps every day to make sure everything is in working order. And to make that job easier, the crew is required to clean the pump every day. ?We?re pretty particular about our pumps, and we make sure to pressure wash everything,? Kerns says.
Kerns makes sure that Bell and Cook employees know that pump safety doesn?t stop when the pump is turned off. ?It?s very important when they clean out the machine that they make sure they don?t stick their hands in any moving parts and they use the proper tools to clean the pumps,? he says.
Having the proper licensing to drive and haul a trailer pump poses both a safety and a legal issue for companies. If a driver isn?t properly licensed then the company is employing an illegal driver. The safety side of the issue relates to what a driver needs to know.
?They need to understand what the weights are, truck to trailer ratios, what your stopping distances are and what your traffic requirements are when you?re driving,? Meschko says.
Allen Concrete Pumping requires its employees to attend training sessions and makes use of ACPA videos and safety seminars. All its employees must know proper pump maintenance and the important specs of the different pumps they use. Pump hose operators and pump operators also receive special training for their particular jobs.
Bell and Cook employees read and review all the ACPA safety information. When a new pump is purchased, Kerns says all the pump operators attend the Schwing safety training so they can familiarize themselves with the pump and its safety issues. In addition, Bell and Cook employs a safety coordinator who monitors all pumping projects. Employees also attend a safety meeting every week where pump as well as general safety are reviewed.
?You want to do everything you can to minimize the possibility of a problem or an injury,? Meschko says.
Each safety issue has its own factors and requirements that contractors and workers need to be aware of. But when it comes to the general issue of concrete pump safety, there are a few preventative measures contractors can take even before entering the jobsite.
?A contractor should pre-plan the pour and discuss potential hazards,? Collins says. But the first steps of safety should happen even before a contractor schedules a job.
?They should request safety information and instruct their employees on the hazards of working with a concrete pump,? Collins adds.
The ACPA is one source contractors can turn to for concrete pump safety information. Aside from the downloadable safety bulletins, offered on the ACPA website www.concretepumpers.com, ACPA also offer manuals, videos and co-worker safety seminars. Also, check with your pump manufacturer for any safety recommendations or safety training for employees.