When it comes to safety, we have all heard many wise sayings and one-liners like: “Prepare and prevent, don’t repair and repent. A casual attitude toward safety = CASUALTY, Chance takers are accident makers”… Some of our favorite sayings are: “Think Safety: some accidents last a lifetime and Work safely: do it for you, also do it for your family” because one moment can shatter one’s life and one ounce of prevention… you can fill out the rest! Another great motto to have on the job is:
Any successful business owner will tell you that to succeed, you have to “Plan your work and work your plan!” Pumping concrete, is no exception and considering the amount of things that could go wrong, this is something that should not be under estimated. Working with machinery/equipment also requires a systematic approach when it comes to operating, maintenance etc. Cut corners and you are guaranteed that you stand to pay for that omission sooner than later and the impact in this case will not only be financial but more importantly, could result in severe injuries for the crew on the job and property damage.
So we have put together a few suggestions you can use as a checklist when going on your next job. Whether you are a veteran or a rookie in the art of pouring concrete, you will appreciate this checklist because no matter how experienced you are, under time pressure, it is easy to forget something really important and often not even realize it until it is too late.
BEFORE LEAVING FOR THE JOB
“Safety is as simple as ABC: Always Be Careful.”
Perform a quick inspection of the concrete pump, truck before leaving. If you use your equipment 5 days a week, you should do this pre-inspection every time. It may take an additional 15-20 minutes to complete, so plan your day accordingly. It will go faster if you can split the check list with another person.
On the pump:
- Check the engine and hydraulic oil levels
- Radiator and flush box water
- Safety covers (make sure is properly closed)
For a more complete list, see more great tips in this article on How to save money on concrete pumps.
On the Trailer:
- Make sure the hitches are closed and locked
- The safety chains are properly placed and secured (you would not want to lose your equipment on the road!)
- Lights are working (that’s a great way to get a ticket on the way to your job!)
- Check all fluids (radiator, power steering, brakes, transmission, engine oil)
- Check system hoses & connections
- Check all tires & lights are working properly
- Check for safety cones, fire extinguisher and first aid kits
- Secure the outrigger and strap the boom of the pumping unit during transportation of the pumping unit
- Truck registration, proof of insurance and driver’s license
Safety & protective equipment for the crew
- Safety goggles, hard hats, work gloves and boots, reflective vest
- Safety chains and cables (one per every device hanging from the boom)
- Tools and grease guns
- Extra hose fittings, pipes
- Clean-out equipment
ON THE JOB
Note: Below is only a partial list but it covers the absolute must on your checklist. You may want to add a few more items depending on the specifics of your job and requirements of your equipment. Remember: “KISS: Keep it Safe and Sound.”
- When setting up for your job, make sure to park in a secure zone.
- Go over your plan with the team and walk the area before setting up so that you can identify all potential hazards (power lines, walls, ditches, vegetation, underground utilities etc) that may require reworking your plan.
- Make sure that area under the pumper and mixers can handle the high weight and load of these machines
- Once the spot has been found, use the parking brake, lock all outriggers in place and stabilize the equipment with pads (make sure they don’t sink when raising the pump with outriggers)
- Safely fasten all the hoses with cables or straps
- Make sure the grate is always placed on top of the hopper
- Identify an area for clean-up and place concrete washout containers per the NPDES (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) requirements
- Establish a mandatory 17-foot minimum clearance from all power lines
- Select the signal person that will direct the operator (only one please!)
FINISHING THE JOB
Even though the actual pouring is completed, the job isn’t over until you have completed cleaning up of the equipment and the area and packed your equipment. This means:
- Remember to retract the outriggers and secure the equipment before moving the truck (may seem obvious but has been done before!)
- Clean out the boom with a ball or sponge
- Always follow the manufacturer’s instruction to clean your equipment
- Clear the area
Note: The suggested recommendations above are very detailed and may seem too time consuming for some people. Don’t be overwhelmed and as a results, go from all to nothing approach. You will need to select the routine and the frequency you will commit to follow and stick to it, no matter what happens on the job. This way, you will plan going through this checklist as part of your routine and as a result anticipate needed maintenance and operate more safely. Because, in the end, safety, is in your hands.
Lessons from experience
Most accidents happen when you are tired, pressured to finish before a certain time, on a tight budget, short of manpower, trying to use equipment that may not be really designed for the job size, or getting old… So if you find yourself in a situation where any or all of the above is the case, you should go through your list even more thoroughly because the odds of something going wrong are much higher. So always plan ahead, so that you have bandwidth to accommodate for unknown surprises because in the end, safety doesn’t slow the job down but mishaps do.
We suggest you read manufacturer’s instructions when buying new or used equipment. Call us at (503)283-2105 if you have any question on concrete equipment, maintenance tips etc.
Additional suggested reading material & reference
American Pumping Associate, Certification of Concrete Pump Operators Manual.