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Safer Ways to Deploy Concrete Boom Pump Outriggers

Home 9 Blog 9 Safer Ways to Deploy Concrete Boom Pump Outriggers

Concrete boom pumps are among the handiest pieces of equipment designed for construction sites. The ease and precision of placing large volumes of concrete exactly where needed is a tremendous advance from the days when workers had to push wheelbarrow loads of concrete from the mixer to the pouring location, or carefully swing bucketloads from one place to another while doing their best not to strike anything in between.

In addition to the flexibility provided by the booms on this equipment, operations can also create significant hazards on the jobsite. Beyond the obvious possibility that the boom will strike workers or stationary objects while it is being deployed, the process of deploying it causes significant changes in the pump’s center of gravity.

That’s why manufacturers add built-in outriggers to provide stability through the full range of the boom’s travel. It’s an effective solution — but only when the outriggers are deployed correctly on surfaces that provide adequate support.

It’s the responsibility of the pump operator to determine where and how to deploy those outriggers. Failure to comply with the manufacturer’s specifications and procedures can cause the pump to tip over, which creates the potential for serious damage and injury, as well as major disruption on the jobsite. Most tip-over accidents are completely avoidable.

At times, the cause of tip-overs is obvious. For example, I remember two tip-overs that occurred when the operator retracted the outriggers while the boom was still raised. In simple terms, the operator just wasn’t paying attention, because the outriggers should never be retracted until the boom is completely lowered into the housing.

Another common cause is extending the outriggers on a surface that’s not prepared to handle the weight and pressure. Soil on a jobsite may be poorly compacted, backfilled, or hidden voids may be present. In those cases, the outrigger may move farther than anticipated once the center of gravity shifts, or if rainwater washes the soil out from under the outrigger. The operator should ensure that the soil has been properly prepared and tested before counting on it as a safe base for deployment.

Construction sites frequently have uneven surfaces. Placing a concrete boom pump up in an area that isn’t level — or using one next to an excavated or sloped area — creates a much greater risk for tip-over. The general rule of thumb is to ensure that the outrigger is placed at least one foot from the edge of the drop-off for every foot of vertical drop. So if an outrigger will be placed next to an eight-foot excavation, it should be at least eight feet from the edge.

Cribbing may be a solution when the surface isn’t strong enough to support the weight on its own, but must be used correctly. The minimum amount of cribbing must be calculated, and it’s always a good idea to use more than the minimum. It’s generally impossible to use too much cribbing. If you’ve computed a need for five pieces of cribbing, but the outrigger’s foot is only touching three of them, you can expect it to sink into the soil. Dunnage may be placed on top of the cribbing to support it in situations like these. Never use cribbing to bridge a hole, because the gap underneath it could lead to a collapse.

If the outriggers cannot be stabilized, the boom should not be unfolded, and the pump should be moved to a surface that can accommodate the weight of the outriggers. Similar steps should be taken if the outriggers begin to sink during operations.

Proper training is critical. Everyone working with the concrete boom pump is responsible for protecting the hose person and other workers in the area. Workers should not climb under the boom.

If the surfaces under the outriggers are sufficiently strong and proper procedures are followed, the concrete boom pump will help everyone get more done in less time — with no damage or injuries.