Improving safety for concrete pump operations in B.C.

To help prevent concrete pumping incidents, stakeholders in B.C.’s construction industry launched a certification program for concrete pump truck operators. 

Photo of concrete pumper truck on bridge under construction

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Every day, workers on construction sites around the world operate concrete pump trucks to pour ready-made concrete. But when something goes wrong, it can be catastrophic.

In 2016, one worker died and another was injured when a concrete pumper truck tipped over on a construction site in Chilliwack, B.C. (Read more about this tragic incident in this safety bulletin from WorkSafeBC.)

In October 2019, four workers and a passing motorist in Melbourne, Australia were injured when a pipe on a concrete pump truck burst. They were sprayed with “bullets” of crushed rocks, gravel, and wet concrete, according to this ABC News story.

Concrete can shoot hundreds of metres — potentially into buildings or other work areas, says Ammar Kavazovic, program manager at the BC Construction Safety Alliance (BCCSA).

“It’s pumped at an incredibly high pressure, with quite a bit of force and torque being run through the system,” he says. “We’ve seen incidents where the pipes will burst or the outriggers will not be set up properly so the machines will tip over.”

Certification program for concrete pump operators

To prevent further incidents and injuries, the BCCSA launched North America’s first certification program for concrete pump operators. They developed the Certified Concrete Pump Operator (CCPO) program in partnership with industry and labour organizations across B.C.

“This program is necessary because concrete pumping is a very high-hazard line of work, which includes operating complex and powerful machinery that has the potential to do great environmental damage and cause serious injuries,” Ammar says. “The certification program is a tool to help ensure that somebody’s actually competent to operate this machinery.”

To obtain their CCPO certification, workers need to pass both a written and a practical exam. The practical exam is an on-site assessment where a test coordinator will evaluate workers’ understanding, knowledge, and safety skills in operating a concrete pump.

For more information about concrete pump safety, see this WorkSafeBC video: Concrete Pump Hose Whips, Throwing Worker. Also see these WorkSafeBC guidelines for concrete pumping.

Thank you to Ammar for telling me about the program and all the collaboration behind it.

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