Concrete pumping

Concrete pumping involves the transportation of a freshly mixed batch of concrete via a system of pipes to a specific location on a construction site.

Concrete pumping is a widely used process in the construction industry. It can be used to manufacture pre-cast and tilt up concrete panels, concrete formwork, slab construction, concrete paving and concrete spraying.

Generally, concrete pumping work is defined as construction work. It may also be considered high risk construction work under the work health and safety laws. It's under the General and Mines regs, but might be confusing to spell out, so think laws is fine as we don't specify any regulation number.

A safe work method statement (SWMS) must be prepared before commencing any high risk construction work activity.

Concrete pumping can pose many serious health and safety risks. Safe Work Australia’s Guide to managing risk in construction: Concrete pumping provides practical guidance to assist the person conducting the business or undertaking (PCBU) and other duty holders,  to manage risks to health and safety associated with concrete pumping in construction work. Although this guide does not reference to WA laws, it is aligned with the laws.

Licensing requirements

A person operating a concrete placing boom must hold a high risk work licence (HRWL).

A PCBU must not direct or allow a worker to carry out high risk work unless you have seen written evidence of the worker’s HRWL.

To find out if you require a HRWL to perform a task see exceptions.

Information, training, instruction, and supervision

A PCBU must provide information, training or instruction to ensure that a worker is suitable and adequate for:

  • the nature of the work carried out
  • the nature of the risks associated with the work at the time, and
  • the control measures implemented.

Managing the risk

A risk assessment will assist a PCBU to think about what could go wrong and how they must manage the health and safety risks associated with concrete pumping in the workplace. There are four steps to risk management.

Identify hazards

Identify hazards associated with concrete pumping that could potentially cause harm to people. Hazards can also arise from conditions of the workplace including local weather conditions. The following could help identify hazards:

  • observe the workplace. Consider the ground conditions where the pumping equipment will operate and how it could interact with other plant, people and structures including overhead electric lines
  • review inspection, test and maintenance records
  • consult with other PCBUs, concrete pumping operators, workers and others about specific hazards or problems they encounter.

Assess risks

Risk assessments help determine any serious risks posed by a hazard, what actions are necessary to control the risk, how urgently the action needs to be taken and who is responsible for implementing the control measures.

A risk assessment should be carried out if:

  • there is uncertainty about how a hazard may result in an injury
  • the work involves a number of different hazards
  • there is a lack of understanding of how the hazards may interact with each other.

Risk assessments should consider:

  • the effectiveness of existing control measures
  • how work is actually undertaken in the workplace
  • maintenance and cleaning
  • breakdown of equipment
  • failures of health and safety controls.

Control risks

A range of control measures needs to be used by PCBUs to do everything that is reasonably practicable to eliminate or minimise risks to health and safety in the workplace. Where the risks cannot be eliminated, it must be minimised, using one or more of the following approaches:

  • substitution
  • isolation
  • engineering controls
  • administrative controls
  • personal protective equipment.

Review hazards and control measures

The control measures need to be regularly reviewed to make sure they are effective. Consulting with workers and their representatives, if any, can help determine if the control measures are effective. You should also consider:

  • if the control measures introduce any new risks
  • if the workers are actively involved in identifying hazards or controls
  • if incidents are occurring more or less frequently
  • if any new information or equipment has been developed that may be effective.

Planning and preparation for concrete pumping operations

Planning and preparation is the first step in ensuring that work is done safely. For planning to be successful, it should involve consultation with all people engaged in the work.  There are five key steps for planning and preparation for concrete pumping operations.

Registering a concrete placing boom

Concrete placing boom designs must be design registered before being commissioned for use in the workplace. The design registration number must be always readily accessible in the vicinity of the plant.

Pumping operation planning

When planning concrete pumping operations, you should consider:

  • liaising with electricity supply authorities regarding the safe supply of electricity
  • the proximity to overhead and underground powerlines
  • concrete pumping requirements
  • traffic control requirements
  • ensuring that the emergency plan has been prepared
  • providing additional safety observers and spotters, depending on the size and complexity of the work
  • ensuring plant is suitable for the work and minimised the risks of injury from movements
  • maintaining adequate clearances between mobile plant, mobile plant loads and concrete pumping equipment
  • ensuring you conduct negotiations between worksites.

Safe work method statements

A PCBU must prepare an SWMS or ensure an SWMS has been prepared before high risk construction work starts. If more than one PCBU has the duty to ensure an SWMS is or has been prepared, they must consult and cooperate with each other to coordinate who will be responsible for preparing it.

For more information, see the Safe work method statement for high risk construction work: Information sheet.

Concrete pumping equipment owner

The owner of the concrete pumping equipment must take all reasonable steps to ensure that safety features and warning devices of the plant are operational and used in accordance with the relevant instructions and training.

An owner who employs concrete pump operators should also ensure that operators have undergone appropriate training and that line hands are trained and competent.

Concrete pumping equipment operator

A concrete pump operator must always operate concrete pumping equipment safely. Concrete operators are required to know:

  • the model of plant to be operated, its characteristics, functions and limitations
  • the instructions in the concrete pumping equipment’s operating manual
  • any site conditions that may affect concrete pump operations.

Maintenance, inspection and testing

Appropriate planned maintenance, inspection and testing programs are essential for the safe operation of concrete placing equipment. Maintenance, inspection and testing must be carried out by a competent person:

  • in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations
  • if there are no manufacturer’s recommendations, in accordance with the recommendations of a competent person
  • if not reasonably practicable to comply with the above, then annually.

Resources and guidance


Safe Work Australia

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