Safety alert issued over delivery of concrete for pumping

Workplace Health and Safety Queensland recently issued a safety alert highlighting the risks associated with delivering concrete to mobile and static concrete pumps in the construction industry. 

The alert was issued following several recent incidents involving concrete delivery to pumps, which have caused actual and the potential for serious injuries.

Delivering concrete from the concrete agitator truck to the hopper of the concrete placing/pumping unit involves one or more trucks reversing up to the hopper. 

The alert said there are risks to the truck driver, the pump operator, the allocated traffic spotter, other workers working in and around the concrete pumping exclusion zone and members of the public.

The alert said workers involved in concrete delivery to concrete pumps are performing high-risk construction work if they are working in an area where there is any movement of a powered mobile plant. 

Further safe work method statements may also be required, including but not limited to, if the work is carried out on, in or adjacent to a road, railway, shipping lane or other traffic corridor that is in use by traffic other than pedestrians; or is carried out on or near energised electrical installations or services. 

When planning for concrete delivery, the alert said to consider the following:

  • Workers’ roles are clearly defined and each person is assessed and deemed competent to perform the tasks they are assigned.
  • Concrete placing boom operators must hold a concrete placing boom (PB) high-risk work licence – or be in the course of training towards PB certification and under the supervision of a person who holds a PB or certification for PB during the 60 days stated on the certification.
  • Establish an exclusion zone to ensure people not involved in pumping (workers and members of the public) are excluded from the work area.
  • Safe access and egress is provided for others around the exclusion zone.
  • A person is appointed as a spotter (by the principal contractor, person with management or control of the workplace or concrete pump company) to direct the truck up to the pumping unit. The traffic controller directing other traffic should not be used as the spotter for the concrete delivery. Multiple spotters may be required for twin truck feeds.
  • Use two-way radios where site conditions require a direct line of communication between the spotter and delivery drivers.
  • Concrete delivery trucks do not reverse into the exclusion zone if they cannot see the spotter – the truck should be stopped immediately if the driver loses sight of the spotter.
  • Concrete delivery trucks have clear and safe access to approach and leave the receiving hopper of the pump.
  • No-one stands between the reversing concrete delivery truck and the hopper or other nearby objects.
  • Use physical barriers between the delivery truck and pump to manage the risk of collision.
  • Truck chutes are not extended until the truck has safely stopped in its final position for concrete delivery. It is preferable for the truck driver to extend the chute, but if another worker does it, they should first get permission from the driver. Chutes must be fully stowed before the truck leaves.
  • Concrete delivery trucks are fitted with flashing hazard lights and audible reversing alarms.
  • Reversing cameras on concrete delivery trucks.
  • Adequate lighting is available and in use.
  • Concrete delivery trucks are preferably parked on a firm level surface and the parking brake is applied. If the truck cannot be parked on a firm level surface alternative controls such as wheel chocks may be used if able to be safely installed and removed.
  • The receiving hopper of the concrete pump is at a height that allows a gravity flow of concrete into the hopper from the discharge chute of the concrete delivery truck.
  • Additional ramping for the truck is used if it’s required for low slump concrete deliveries. Ramps should have a non-slip surface and be designed to ensure the truck remains stable and cannot back off the ramps.
  • Concrete delivery truck drivers are located in a safe position when loading the hopper to prevent the need for access onto the concrete pumping unit.
  • Delivery to the concrete pump is monitored by the concrete pump operator at all times to prevent under or over delivery. This may include monitoring through a trained person (see point below).
  • If the pump operator is not in view of the hopper to monitor the concrete level, that a competent person, preferably from the concrete pumping company, is appointed to perform the task and communicate with the operator. This task should not be performed by the concrete delivery truck driver.
  • If the driver needs to leave the area for any reason, work should cease until they return.
  • The timing of concrete deliveries is managed with the batch plant to help avoid a backlog of trucks on-site and prevent concrete from curing in the agitator bowl, causing contamination in the load.
  • Agitator bowls are properly cleaned and maintained to prevent a build-up of hardened product that can contaminate loads.
  • The chute isn’t washed into the concrete pump hopper as water can enter the pumping system between deliveries and create a block between concrete loads.
  • Appropriate PPE is provided and used by all workers, including high visibility clothing, eye protection and hearing protection where noise levels are a risk.
  • Two-way radios are considered where site conditions require a direct line of communication between pump operators and delivery drivers.
  • All warning labels, control labelling and safety devices at the rear of the concrete pumping unit are maintained.