As of March 2015 almost everyone working on a concrete pour acquired an expanded job description. Changes that went into effect with the new American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) safety standard make the jobsite safer than ever, but they also entail a new level of accountability and cooperation among the pump operator, the ready-mix truck driver, and the concrete placing crew.

After years of evaluation and industry input, ASME B30.27-2014, Material Placement Systems, went into effect on March 26, 2015. It addresses the manufacture, inspection, maintenance, and use of concrete pumps and concrete conveyors. Most importantly, it brings increased responsibilities to contractors, pump and belt owners and operators, suppliers, and others on a concrete pour. Complying with the new standard will give each company represented on the jobsite a new level of ownership in safety.

The aim of ASME B30.27-2014 is to ensure that known hazards associated with a concrete pour are someone’s responsibility. While ASME standards are voluntary, many in the industry believe that in the event of a jobsite incident, OSHA could use the standard as a basis for levying fines and plaintiff attorneys will use the standard as the benchmark of proper procedure.

Because of the number of changes that are now in effect, companies should get a copy of the standard and make the necessary changes in procedures to ensure compliance. Employee training will be crucial. Some companies are hiring compliance consultants to be sure of a smooth transition.

Why a new standard?The new standard was developed to fill a significant gap in existing safety standards. When pumping was introduced to U.S. contractors in the early 1970s, there was no standard that applied to the machines or processes. Consequently, when an accident occurred, attorneys used the similarity between pumps and cranes — both generally have booms and outriggers — as justification for referencing guidelines that pertained to cranes. But pumps are not cranes and they needed relevant standards of their own.

In 1995, the Concrete Pump Manufacturers Association (CPMA) was formed to draft an American National Standard for the pumping industry. In December 1999, the draft standard was brought to the ASME B30 committee, which is the committee responsible for safety standards for all cranes and cranelike devices. The committee agreed to address the structural aspects of a boom pump and the pipe systems, but declined to address the pump itself until it could recruit pump experts to the committee.

So when ASME B30.27-2005 was released in early 2005, the CPMA draft standard (now at version 6) remained in effect to cover the pump section of the machines. In late 2005, the ASME B30 main committee agreed to take on the pump element within the .27 volume. All other editions of the standard have included all elements of concrete pumps.

  • B30.27’s scope includes:concrete pumps
  • concrete pump placing booms
  • concrete conveyor systems, and
  • pipe and system components.

While the new standard went a long way toward improving jobsite safety, many jobsite tasks remained uncovered under any safety standard, and jobsite accidents continued to occur at an unacceptable rate.