Concrete pump safety – managing hose whip

May 13th, 2011

‘Hose whip’ is a term referring to the rapid, uncontrolled movement of the rubber hose attached to the end of a concrete placement boom or concrete delivery line.

Authorities significantly increased emphasis on the need to manage hose whip when a worker in Queensland was killed after being knocked over by a whipping hose on a mobile concrete placement boom. The worker tried to hold the hose in a horizontal position, however the whipping of the hose caused him to strike his head, resulting in the fatal injury.

Understanding why hose whip occurs and measures to prevent injury will ensure a safer workplace and may even save a life.

How does it happen?
The hose may become uncontrollable during concrete pumping or when the line is being cleaned out. Air can enter the hose and become pressurised through the process of pumping. Persons can be injured by either being struck directly or knocked over by the whipping hose.

How can it be prevented?
Hose whip can be eliminated or reduced by implementing a number of preventative measures, and adopting safe work systems around concrete pumping activities:

Choose the right concrete mix: Not all concrete is suitable for pumping, so ensure you only pump concrete mix that is suitable for pumping. Concrete mixes that are not suitable for pumping can block the line and cause hose whip.

Keep concrete in its plastic state prior to pumping:
If concrete is left in the line, it can partially solidify, resulting in blockages and hose whip. This is why it is critical to always ensure concrete remains in its plastic state before pumping commences.

Fold hose over when pumping is complete: When pumping is finished, ensure the hose is folded over. This will prevent concrete dropping out of the hose, which can allow air to enter the system. Use water instead of air to clean the pump hose, and when there are no other options but to clean the pump line out with air, secure the end of the steel line and have an exclusion zone. All reducers and the rubber hose must be removed from the end of the delivery line.

Ensure only qualified people operate the pump: Only people with adequate training and competence should operate the concrete pump, following precautions such as starting the pump slowly to reduce the likelihood of hose whip. Anyone not involved in the pumping of concrete should stay away from the concrete pumping area.

Ensure hard hats are worn by all involved in pumping: Workers involved in the pumping process should always wear the necessary safety equipment, including hard hats.

Do not attach metal fittings to free end of hose: Metal fittings should never be attached to the free end of the rubber delivery hose, as this can cause serious injury or damage on impact.

Never stretch the hose: If the boom is not long enough to reach the concrete pour area, a larger boom should be used or the concrete pump should be moved closer to the work area.

Keep work area tidy: Lastly, ensure the work area is kept tidy in general to reduce risk of tripping, slipping or obstructing the hose.

Concrete Pumping Code of Practice 2005