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Using A Pump Truck? Be Careful Where You Park

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Concrete pump trucks used by companies like Masterlink Concrete Pumping are a great tool for delivering concrete in areas that are impossible to reach with standard concrete trucks. Like any other tool, however, it can quickly prove dangerous when used improperly. It's not uncommon for these vehicles to tip over due to improper positioning or inadequate stabilization. To keep such accidents from happening, it's important to know how to properly position and stabilize concrete pump trucks.

The Importance of Proper Truck Positioning

Positioning plays a key role in ensuring safe operation of the pump truck itself, as well as maintaining the overall safety of the operator and nearby workers. Once the placing boom is fully extended into the work area, the weight of the concrete traveling through the line could easily upset the truck's balance if it's not positioned properly. Without proper positioning and stabilization, the pump truck could easily tip over and cause serious or even fatal injuries in the process.

Before pumping begins, there should already be a safe designated space available that can easily accommodate the pump truck. Not only should the site be free of construction materials and debris, but it should also have enough space available for ready-mix trucks to enter and exit freely. The area itself should also be level and capable of supporting the entire weight of the truck. It's also essential for concrete pump truck operators to utilize their built-in outriggers for additional support.

Stabilization Best Practices

Following best practices on positioning and stabilization is essential for maintaining a safe working environment for operators and others in the surrounding area. Here are a few best practices to consider when working with concrete pump trucks:

  • Consider the surface type of the work site, especially the immediate area around the pump truck, since different surfaces can withstand different maximum pressures; for instance, ordinary soil has a load-bearing capacity of 22 psi, whereas compacted gravel withstands up to 109 psi of pressure.
  • Never set the outriggers on uneven soils or hillsides, as this could create a potential tipping hazard.
  • Always watch out for ground voids and other areas where weak soil or rock could pose a problem; never bridge cribbing over a hole, as this could cause the cribbing to break or the hole to give way.  
  • Avoid "guesstimating" how much cribbing your outrigger floats will need; instead, you should always calculate how much support is actually needed according to vehicle, load and accessory weights, and maximum allowable pressures for various surfaces.
  • Slowly extend the placing boom over each individual outrigger prior to pumping and observe the outrigger for any signs of sinking—this way, you'll be able to shore up an outrigger with extra cribbing if necessary.
  • Avoid partially extending the outriggers, as doing so could damage the equipment and create instability.
  • Don't forget about the "one-to-one" rule when working near slopes or vertical drop-offs; for every foot of depth, the pump truck should be positioned at least one foot back from the edge.

Don't Forget About Power Lines

One of the most common causes of serious and even fatal accidents involving concrete pump trucks involves contact with a high-voltage power line. To prevent injuries and fatalities, the American Concrete Pumping Association (ACPA) recommends that placing booms should never be operated within 20 feet of any energized overhead power line. That recommendation extends to 50 feet if the line voltage is in excess of 350 kilovolts. Any operator working outside of but in close proximity to the danger zone should always insist on a dedicated spotter to prevent any instance of accidental contact.

Getting the job done should never take precedence over keeping everyone on the job site safe.