When a mixer truck pulls up to the pump's hopper, it becomes a key part of the construction process. Success requires a close cooperative relationship between the driver and the pump operator. Fleet managers can help make a project successful by alerting their drivers to the safety issues unique to a pump job. So says Les Ainsworth, president of Pumpco, a Denver-based concrete pumping service with offices in 14 states, and a board member with the Rocky Mountain Concrete Pumping Association. This article was based on Ainsworth's presentation at the first-ever NRMCA/ASCC Advanced Technical Seminar held in Dallas last May. "In speaking with our chapter's members, we have identified three primary things mixer drivers must do to keep the job going smoothly," Ainsworth tells pumpers.

At the start of the pour, the first driver on the job must wait for the pump operator to place the primer into the hopper. Trying to start without a primer will only result in a plugged line, leading to downtime for everyone.

During the pour, the driver must keep the pump's charging hopper full. With an empty hopper, the pump sucks in air and then either entraps it in the pipeline or propels air and concrete upward and out of the hopper. If air pushed through the discharge hose is restricted, it can force concrete upward from the hopper area, possibly causing the concrete to hit the operator and the driver.

At the end of the pour, drivers must not discharge washout water into the hopper without the operator's permission. A sudden change in the mix can plug the pump, leaving the operator with a boom full of concrete.

These and other safety concerns are summarized in the acronym PUMPSAFE. By establishing and reviewing these safety rules with their drivers, producers can help increase both contractors' production rates and drivers' safety awareness.