Although the responsibility for everyday safety while operating concrete pumps rests upon the operator, it is vital that everyone involved makes safety the top priority, writes VG Sakthikumar.
Safety is one of the major concerns of every person involved in the concrete pumping industry. Although much of the responsibility for everyday safety rests upon the pump operator, it is vital that everyone involved makes safety the top priority. This includes the owners, the mechanics, the ready-mix drivers, the placing crew, the concrete contractors and the machine manufacturers. If spectators will be near the pour, cordon off an area where they will be safe. Never operate the machine if it is not safe to do so, even if the spectators just want to see a certain operation or function.
Setting up a stationary pump
The job set-up phase sets the stage for most accidents. Taking a few extra moments to correctly set up the job will improve the chances of having a safe, trouble-free day/night. Before laying the pipeline or pumping the concrete, the machine stability is very important:
Pipelines, end hoses, couplings, and all other material delivery components must be able to withstand the maximum concrete pressure of the pump. Knowledge of minimum wall thickness, operating and concrete pressure is mandatory. Concrete pipeline system is subject to wear, and the rate of wear is affected by pumping pressure, concrete composition, pipeline material and other factors. Bursting pipes and concrete escaping under pressure is a serious safety hazard. Delivery system components must be able to withstand maximum pump pressure. The maximum concrete pressure of the pump must be the only factor used to determine what thickness of pipe and what type of ends are needed. In the case of a valve jam or any other type of blockage, the maximum pressure of the pump will be exerted.
The operator is responsible for checking the pipeline for dents, cracks, wear, and continuity each day before the pour begins. In vertical runs, the weight of the vertical sections of pipe must be supported by a thrust block (often called Deadman) or other load-bearing device. Each section of pipeline in a vertical run must be secured from lateral and horizontal movement. Never try to operate the pump by an unskilled operator.
It is recommended to make the ´Operation and Safety Manual´ available to all the personnel involved in the pumping job. Safety during pumping, safety during cleaning and safety during clearing the blockages, can only be achieved by proper planning and implementation of periodic quality checks.
The author is Managing Director, Schwing Stetter Sales and Services Pvt Ltd. He is also Chairman of Mechanisation Committee, Builders Association of India.