CONCRETE pump hirers have published the first comprehensive guidance for the sector in a bid to improve safety standards and root out bad practice on site.
The Safe Use of Concrete Pumps has been approved by the Health and Safety Executive. Its creator, the British Concrete Pumping Group, hopes to get the code of practice swiftly adopted as a British Standard.
David Pochin, chairman of the group and managing director of Pochin Plant, said the guide will be a wake-up call for contractors and small hire companies.
Mr Pochin said: 'It will come as a short sharp shock to the small firms and subcontractors who think they can operate pumps like they are dumpers. It's not like other kit, and there are a lot of hazards if the operatives are not trained or the machines are badly maintained.'
The guide covers the roles and responsibilities of the various parties in the pumping process, including the use of method statements and risk assessments.
Mr Pochin said: 'It will provide practical guidance for both hire companies and customers as to what should be expected from the pumping operation in terms of safety, training and their responsibilities.
'Some customers are not very clued up about the process and these are expensive and potentially dangerous pieces of kit - concrete can be coming out at a line pressure of 50-60 bar.'
The BCPG hopes that the guidance will have the same effect on pumping as the crane industry's code of practice on contract lifting, which recommended a tough line with those that did not meet standards.
'We are hoping that following the HSE's approval it, it will be enforced on site, although often it takes something to happen before it does.With black and white guidance in place, the site will be asked: 'Why weren't you using it?' It cannot be ignored.'
Unlike crane hirers, the concrete pumpers cannot take complete control over a job because they are not responsible for the material or the laying gangs. Mr Pochin wants a formal allocation of risks and responsibilities.
He said: 'We have to work with these gangs.Sometimes we have called our men off site because the gang doesn't understand English.'
nDavid Pochin is profiled in Plant Hire on pages 26-27