Worksafe Western Australia has issued a safety alert for concrete pump operators after recent incidents on construction sites.

Worksafe said the purpose of the safety alert is to make builders and concrete pump operators aware of the need to manage risks if they operate or contract the operation of a concrete pump on a construction site.

Examples of recent incidents include legs being caught in a concrete pump hopper between the agitator/paddles.

Worksafe said the main factor causing drivers/operators to be injured appears to be a lack of maintenance of equipment leading to failure of interlocks of the grate over the hopper, a recognised high-wear area.  

Worksafe said the other contributing factors include:

  • The design of the hopper makes cleaning from the outside of the hopper with water difficult
  • The controls between the water and agitator are very close
  • The micro switch was not designed to fail to safety
  • Lack of operator training, inadequate instruction and supervision are factors in other incidents
  • Safe Work Method Statements (SWMS) do not adequately reflect accessing the hopper for clean-out purposes.

In its safety alert, Worksafe WA outline the actions required to decrease the risk of serious accidents when using concrete pump hoppers.

These actions include:

  • The employer or person in control of the workplace must ensure all vehicle-mounted concrete boom pump operators hold a High Risk Work Licence
  • Workers must be trained in using safe work procedures and be adequately supervised
  • SWMS must be conducted to address the danger of entering the hopper, and ways to mitigate the need to enter the hopper

The employer should:

  • Ensure all drivers/operators are adequately trained
  • SWMS are conducted and the need to enter the hopper is fully explained and understood
  • Ensure the hopper is fitted with a secured hopper grate, or that the hopper grate is interlocked with an emergency stop button

A risk assessment on all tasks must be done by the employer or person in control of the workplace.

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