Safety In The Workplace With Concrete Pumps

One very dangerous thing that is seen in the concrete pumping industry from time to time is people having their arms, fingers, etc. amputated in the field due to cleaning out the pump with their hands while the pump motor is running. Remember, never put any body part in the hopper, outlet valve or lubrication box while the pump is running. Many of these amputations are caused because the operator thinks that just because the remote is off everything is all right. However, what happens is they press the stop button on the remote and then they stick their arm or hand into a moving part on the pump and then they lean up against the pump or whatever and the remote button is pushed on and their arm is chopped off. It happens just like that, fast!

Remember to read the pump manufacturer’s operating manual before cleaning or repairing your concrete pump. If you have to service the pump and need to put your hands near moving parts, always shut off the pump engine and remove the key and make sure all pressure is at zero.

Most pumping companies will see a steady growth in pump jobs due to the summer months ahead. This is a great time of year to service your pumps and equipment. With more pump jobs it means more money. Don’t forget to invest back into your equipment. Don’t get out on a job and have a problem that could have been avoided.

Check your hoses for wear spots, and holes in the hose. Also, check the hose ends including the inside. Look for thin metal. Check your reducer and the ends of the reducers. Periodically lightly tap your reducers with a hammer. You can actually hear a very bright “ting” if the metal is getting too worn. When this happens, replace it. Here’s a little side note. Did you hear about the guy who lost his vision due to the hose exploding open in his face. His employer had no workman’s comp and either did the general contractor. Don’t gamble in this business. People can get injured and killed.

Here’s a good habit to get into.

Start off with good hoses and clamps. When setting up a job, roll out the hose from one end and when rolling it up, roll it from the other end. That way you can inspect both ends daily. If you come across a bad hose, spray paint it to mark it and put it aside. Then either fix it, cut it into two hoses, or throw it away. If the concrete hose clogs, a damaged or worn hose could burst with the possibility of causing property damage, personal injury or even death. Same thing with the reducers or elbows.. Don’t take chances. Fix it or throw it away. Once again, invest in your equipment.

Pump Maintenance / When was the last time you changed your hydraulic oil?

Don’t forget to check your pumps owner’s manual on when to change the hydraulic fluid, motor oil and all your filters including hydraulic filter, motor oil filter, air filter and fuel filter. Check all your hydraulic hoses and fittings, loose nuts and bolts, loose wires and fittings, etc. Also, always keep an eye on your accumulator pressure. Don’t pump with low accumulator pressure. If you are running low on pressure, charge your accumulator according to your pump manufacturers guidelines. By maintaining your pump you will be able to offer your customers quality and well maintained equipment. Then down the road if you decide to sell your pump you’ll be happy you maintained it. Just keep this in mind. A well maintained pump gets top dollar in the used concrete pumping market.

Check your hitch.

Once a guy told me that his pump came off his truck while driving down the freeway. No one was injured! But it could have been bad, very bad! Check your hitch everyday.

Where do I purchase washout bags?

The bags generally used are 3 mil contractor bags. You can purchase them at hardware stores such as Home Depot, etc. Don’t use the basic garbage bags, they’re too thin. Make sure you use the 3 mil bags. Only fill about1/4 to 1/3 of the bag or you won’t be able to lift it.

Where do I buy bentonite slurry for the pump hose?

Most concrete pump operators agree the best slurry for the hose is bentonite clay. Bentonite sometimes can be a little hard to come by if you don’t know where to purchase it. Look in your yellow pages under clay. If you have no luck there, try looking under Water Well Supplies or Drilling Supplies. Bentonite is used for drilling purposes and you can generally buy it by the bag or pallet. You can expect to spend between $5.00 to $8.00 per 50 lb bag. You can also use “cement” or “masonry fire clay”. You can also check with your pump manufacturer and see if they offer pump hose slurry for sale. There are a few companies that sell slurry by individual packages. One small bag for each job. It can be a little more money but some people really like it. Just remember when you use slurry, pump it into a bag or someplace other than into the concrete forms.

I’ve noticed sometimes that the first 2 or 3 concrete hoses from the pump moves a lot while pumping. Is that normal? Yes, but try this. If you are using a smaller hose, for instance a 2 ½ inch hose, start off with 25 ft. to 50 ft. of 3 inch hose and then add the 2 ½ inch for the remainder. The bigger hose will relieve some of the pressure. If you are using a concrete grout pump with a 2 inch hose, try starting off with 25 ft. of 2 ½ inch. If you’re really noticing a lot of hose movement, slow down the concrete output. Don’t slow down the engine, just the concrete volume. Always remember to keep the hoses from being damaged by rubbing against sharp objects such as corners, sharp rocks, etc. and also make sure what’s underneath the hose isn’t getting damaged either, such as a concrete driveway, lawns, plants, etc.