It’s no secret that construction sites – from small residential to large commercial sites – present risk for those who build every day. OSHA states that “out of 4,693 worker fatalities in private industry in calendar year 2016, 991 or 21.1 percent were in construction. That is, one in five worker deaths in 2016 were in the construction sector.” Dale Wagner, director of Health and Safety Operations: Western US, serves as a resource for LafargeHolcim’s family of companies throughout the United States to ensure they have the tools to execute consistent standards for optimal, efficient and safe deliveries.
“Concrete deliveries and placement can pose threats to safety on jobsites, and our goal is to create Zero Harm from the batch plant, through delivery and back to our facilities. Our operations want to partner with each and every customer up front to ensure that together, we achieve a win-win on every pour,” says Wagner.
Here are four key areas that he highlights that should be implemented to minimize onsite hazards during the delivery and placement of concrete:
Proper Access Reduces the Potential for Accidents
Ensuring safe ingress and egress begins when the truck leaves the public road system, continues to the location on the job site where the concrete is to be off-loaded, and doesn’t stop until the truck returns to the roadway. Make sure the path is clear and accessible throughout the journey, with compacted, level and stable ground. Any excessive grading can cause the truck to lean, which is clearly not a good idea. When graded approaches or exits are unavoidable, access ramps with secure, proper shoring or berming need to be built. The travel way should also be free of construction equipment, materials and debris. No pedestrian paths should cross the delivery way, and nothing should obstruct or limit visibility or travel to the off-loading area.
Maintaining safe distances from potential threats is also vitally important. For open excavation, trenches and edges, the rule of thumb is simple: keep a distance of one foot for every foot of depth into the excavation. The width of the path and off-loading area must also be adequate: 12 feet across is the minimum required to safely accommodate our trucks. When it comes to overhead obstructions, such as power lines, tree limbs, or overpasses, any clearances that are less than 15 feet should be clearly marked. In any case where these minimum distances cannot be achieved, pumps or other remote placement devices can be used, with caution.
Illumination Lights the Path
During evening operations and low-visibility conditions, keep everyone safe by ensuring that effective and adequate lighting is in use. There are a number of ways to achieve this, including:
- Portable light stands
- Rotating bean bag lights
- Balloon lighting
- Chemical lights
Be sure to position light sources strategically in order to minimize glare, taking care to highlight any unusual hazards. Using colored lights is an effective way to draw attention to hazards.
Ground Guide: Communication and PPE is Key
Because reversing to the off-loading location is often done within tight constraints, a person should be designated to assist ready-mix drivers—communicating with the driver to ensure that the travel path is clear.
While universal hand signals exist, the most important thing is to ensure that communication between the ground guide and the driver is clear. The ground guide needs to have an eye out both for ground and overhead hazards, most importantly signaling for people to stand clear of the vehicle. The ground guide needs to be dressed in the proper PPE, including a highly-visible outer garment and any gear necessary to assist with hanging and positioning chutes.
Wash-Out Areas are Essential for Environmental Preservation
Environmental preservation is important for the communities in which we all work. A designated area on the job site should be set aside from construction operations where ready-mix trucks can wash off after pouring and before re-entering the public roadway. As with the rest of the job site where the vehicle is expected to travel, the wash-out area needs to be clear of overhead power lines and crane travel, and the ground needs to be well-compacted and level.
Washout water and material must be contained on-site; there are companies that provide this service in environmentally-responsible ways. If the project superintendent is not aware of any local companies that can provide this service, your local sales representative can provide assistance.
Let’s Start a Partnership
According to Wagner, the hallmarks of safe deliveries are awareness and communication. “We often find that our customers appreciate and respect the expectations and standards we need to have on site for safe deliveries. When they implement this program, job site safety improves for all involved, and that’s a win-win for everyone.”
Learn more about how to prepare your jobsites for concrete deliveries. Contact your local sales representative today.