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Renting A Concrete Pump Truck? Stay Safe With These Three Guidelines

by Kyle Carpenter

Whether you're a homeowner embarking on a new patio project or an inexperienced contractor working your first big job, you may discover that the task of pouring concrete is too difficult for you to handle on your own. The area you need to fill could be too large, or it could have a shape that makes pouring concrete tricky. Your best bet in this situation is to rent a concrete pump truck, but if you've never used this type of equipment before you may be worried about operating it safely. Safety is paramount when working with concrete pump trucks; aside from the obvious dangers posed by pouring the concrete itself, you need to be on the lookout for more subtle hazards such as nearby power lines, hose whipping, and unclear communication between the person operating the truck and the person or crew providing the operator with instructions. Avoid peril by heeding the guidelines laid out below.

1. Hire a Trained Concrete Pump Operator Along with the Truck

If you have a fair amount of experience operating heavy machinery, you may be tempted to save a little money by operating the truck yourself. This is a bad idea. Concrete pump trucks are complex and potentially dangerous pieces of machinery that should only be operated by a highly trained and certified professional. Many concrete pump truck rental businesses will also provide a trained operator with your rental, but it's a good idea to vet their operators before working with them. Ask for credentials like certification; properly trained concrete pump operators should be certified with the American Concrete Pavement Association (ACPA) and must re-certify every two years by undergoing additional comprehensive training and learning about any new safety standards.

2. Ensure Clear Communication Between You and the Operator

While the concrete pump operator should be fully trained in all aspects of safe operation of the truck, they will still need your help to complete the project according to your specifications. This could include directing them on how quickly to pour the concrete, telling them when and where to move the boom and/or truck, and instructing them to stop concrete delivery when the process is complete. Though they will be familiar with such tasks through the completion of previous projects, they will also recognize you as the one in charge of the current project and follow your directions carefully (unless those directions could compromise the safety of anyone near the work site).

This is why it is critical to have a thorough understanding of safe practices when pouring concrete. You need to make the project's goals as easy for the operator to understand as possible, and both of you should focus on the task at hand and avoid distractions like cell phones and other mobile devices. (If the distance between you and the operator is too great to communicate through voice or hand signals, a radio should be used rather than talking or texting through a cell phone.)

3. Be Wary of Environmental and Equipment Hazards

An acute awareness of your surroundings could mean the difference between safety and a fatal accident. Before pumping the concrete, check to make sure that there are no power lines within at least 10 feet of where the truck will be operating, and designate someone to warn the operator if they are approaching an unsafe distance. 

Inspect the concrete pump truck to ensure that no loose parts could fly off and injure someone while it's being operated; specifically, check the placing hose and remove any metal connectors that may be attached to it. If any air accidentally enters the placing line, that air could become compressed and cause the placing hose to whip around. The risk of serious injury will be lessened if there are no metal parts whipping around along with the hose.

Listen to the advice of the rental company and its operator to become familiar with any other current safety standards that should be followed. By paying close attention and keeping these practices in the back of your mind, you can complete your concrete pumping project quickly and safely.