Improving the Safety of Concrete Pumping Equipment

Everything and every person around a concrete pumping operation should be contributing to the safe operation of the pump, and when this is in fact the case, effective concrete pumping is the usual result. Of course, that may not always be true at a work site, so having concrete pumping insurance is a must-have, to cover those unforeseen eventualities which would otherwise leave a contractor exposed to a great many unpleasant situations.

Insured Against the Unexpected

Specialty concrete pumping insurance can reduce exposure to conversion, loss of income, over-the-road mishaps, accidental pollution and replacement costs for expensive heavy equipment. In addition, insurance providers can generally offer risk management solutions which, if adopted, will lower the cost of the overall insurance policy for a company. The potential for any or all of these issues is always present on a concrete pumping project, and the prudent businessman should take steps to protect his company from them by seeking the appropriate level of insurance from a provider well-experienced in the nuances of the industry.

Concrete Pumping Safety

The first step toward ensuring safety during concrete pumping operations is to have the crew go through safety training programs that will make them aware of all the potential pitfalls of the business, and what must be done to avoid them. This will give all crew members the necessary safety baseline upon which real-world scenarios can be framed – a training program may not cover everything, and things will probably be different on the actual job site, but safety will still become embedded in the thought processes of your team members.

Planning ahead is a critical step toward safe placement of the concrete pump. Any site chosen should be free of debris, and as level as possible. Ideally there should be room for two trucks to discharge concrete simultaneously, and the ground that they must drive over should be solid enough to accommodate their combined weight. Power lines need to be taken into account, and if the boom from a concrete truck will be within 20 feet or so of a power line, there must be a crewman on hand at all times to guide the boom.

According to American Concrete Pavement Association (ACPA) guidelines, concrete pump outriggers should be placed at least one foot away from a cut for each foot of vertical excavation. This is the ‘one-to-one’ rule, meaning that an eight foot deep vertical cut requires the pump’s outriggers to be eight feet away, which thus establishes 45 degrees of soil from the outrigger to the toe of the cut. In softer or looser soil conditions, greater distance should be used.

Crew Safety

Crew members should always be alert to the possibility of hose whipping, which is a sudden, violent wrenching of the concrete hose caused by one of several conditions which can introduce air into the line. Once the whipping action stops, crewmen must still stand clear of the hose until air pockets have been cleared out, and concrete is once again flowing in a consistent manner. The dangers of hose whipping can become more dangerous, and even life-threatening if any kind of metal such as a metal hose connector were to be placed at the end of the hose.

A single designated crewman should be providing direction to the pump operator, starting and stopping the flow of concrete, as well as indicating placement and boom movement. If necessary, a system of hand signals should be worked out between the pump operator and his guide to ensure proper communication above background noise.

The pump operator must be a very highly trained professional, and should be responsible not only for his own safe job performance, but should ensure that safe practices are being observed by the entire crew as well. The ACPA recommends that the pump operator complete a refresher safety program every two years to be certified in the execution of his duties, and in safety practices for his co-workers.

Concrete pumping is an operation which does have some inherent dangers due to the heavy equipment being used, the process itself, and simply the fact that the operation takes place on construction sites, which always incorporate a certain degree of hazard. But by maintaining good concrete pumping insurance, and ensuring that crewmen are always alert to the occupational dangers, concrete pumping will remain the safest and most effective way of placing concrete at a work site.

Minimize your project’s risk by contacting the concrete pumping insurance professionals at Allied Business Insurance. With 10 years working in the industry, Allied’s team of construction insurance brokers know just what it takes to help you keep the worksite safe and efficient. For all of your insurance needs, contact Allied Insurance Brokers today!

*Allied does not deem this blog entry as a complete and thorough listing or overview of the above topic, and does not recommend it be primarily relied on. It only highlights some common issues and resolutions. For a thorough overview, please contact Allied’s Risk Engineering Division.