Concrete placing equipment operations: Fact sheet
This fact sheet reminds operators of concrete placing equipment and persons involved in concrete placing activities of their duties and provides guidance on managing risks.
Several incidents involving concrete placing equipment have occurred during recent years. These incidents include:
- pipeline and coupling failures resulting in leakage of concrete under pressure
- failure of concrete boom components resulting in structural collapse
- contact between concrete booms and overhead powerlines
- whipping of delivery hoses attached to line pumps and concrete placing booms resulting in serious injuries and one fatality
- instability of a mobile boom pump (and carrier) resulting in the boom pump tipping over
- accessing hazardous moving parts due to modified, broken or missing hopper grate.
The WHS Act 2011 imposes duties on multiple persons including plant designers, manufacturers, importers, suppliers, principal contractors, plant operators and workers. These duties include identifying and eliminating the hazards or implementing appropriate controls to reduce the risk, if it is not practicable to eliminate the hazard.
Persons in control of concrete placing equipment must ensure all installed safety devices are serviceable and functioning as designed eg: interlock devices on hopper grates. Safety controls and auxiliary safety devices must not be modified, bypassed or defeated.
Workers may be exposed to health and safety risks when setting up or operating concrete placing equipment. The associated hazards include:
- excessive slope and/or inadequate ground bearing capacity where concrete placing equipment is located
- using concrete pumping equipment for a purpose which it has not been designed, or operating outside of the recommended design parameters
- contact with overhead power lines
- collision with persons, structures or other plant, eg: concrete agitator trucks
- uncontrolled hose whip or line movement
- uncontrolled and sudden release of plant components and/or concrete through equipment failure or blockages
- crush points, hazardous moving parts and confined spaces
- diesel fumes and noise
- slippery surfaces and trip hazards.
Below are examples of measures to be taken to ensure safe operation of concrete placing equipment. Also considered site-specific requirements and the type of plant in use.
- Consult with relevant stakeholders prior to setting up or operating your equipment. Eg: principal contractor, other contractors, your workers, local authorities and tenants of neighbouring premises.
- Ensure concrete placing equipment is correctly sited with appropriate consideration of ground conditions or supporting structures (such as suspended slabs). The equipment should be sited to enable the deployment of outriggers.
- Ensure the concrete placing equipment is sited to ensure appropriate approach distances are maintained for overhead powerlines, pedestrian exclusion zones can be established and maintained around the equipment, and the risk of collision with structures is minimised so far as reasonably practicable. Use traffic management controls and/or spotters where necessary.
- Ensure concrete placing equipment operators and workers are suitably trained and competent for the type and model or plant they are working with, including holding the appropriate high risk work licence. They must be aware of the operating parameters of the plant they are using as recommended by the manufacturer.
- The concrete placing equipment operator should remain in control of the equipment at all times to ensure appropriate action can be taken when a risk arises, eg: promptly stopping the pump in the event of blockage or leakage.
- The line hand and line pump operator should not be the same person. A line hand may not be required if the discharge hose does not need to be moved or directed during the pour, eg: when pouring a lift base. The boom and the pump of a truck mounted boom may be operated by one person.
- Flexible hoses on line pumps should be secured in place when priming or clearing blockages to eliminate the risk of hose whip. Couplings must never be attached to the end of a line pump while operating.
- Prior to operation, check that the interlock on the hopper grate is functioning properly. Opening the grate or activation of the emergency stop should stop the dangerous moving parts and dump accumulator pressure.
- Prior to operation, check safety pins are installed on all delivery line clamps.
- Remove trip and slip hazards or manage their risks where eliminating the hazard is not possible.
Inspection and maintenance
Inspection, testing and maintenance of concrete placing equipment must be carried out in accordance with the manufacturer’s requirements. Where the manufacturer’s requirements are not available, the recommendations of a competent person must be followed.
- Inspection, testing and maintenance must be undertaken by appropriately competent persons at designated intervals.
- Pre-operational checks should always be undertaken.
- All inspecting testing and maintenance activities should be recorded and those records kept. Records of routine and periodic inspections should identify the items inspected, actual condition against acceptance/reject criteria and the method of inspection.
- Australian Standard AS 2550.15:2019 provides further detail on maintenance and inspection requirements for concrete placing equipment.