Award Bio Robert Edwards 1/25/08
Concretepumping.com is pleased to announce that Robert (Rob) Edwards has accepted the title of Safety Professional for concretepumping.com.
Rob has been in the concrete pumping industry since 1978, starting as a pump operator in Minnesota. He is currently employed as the Director of Product Safety and Development for Alliance Concrete Pumps out of British Columbia. Rob has a great deal of experience in pump safety. When he worked for Schwing America, he wrote the original Safety Manual , plus the Safety Manual for Ready Mix Truck Drivers, and the CoWorker Safety Rules. He has written several articles for Concrete Pumping magazine, and Concretepumping.com. He's been one of the instructors on safety topics at the World of Concrete, the Con-Ag, the Latin American World of Concrete in Mexico City, and the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He's given sworn testimony in somewhere over fifty lawsuits regarding concrete pumps. Rob is currently president of the CPMA, and is the chair of the ASME committee that developed the safety standard for concrete pumps (ASME B30.27), which is an American National Standard.
Rob will be guest writing articles for the website, and watching the website for misinformation and unsafe practices. I'm very happy that Rob has agreed to perform this valuable service for the benefit of the operators and workers around pumps. Please join me in welcoming Rob to the concretepumping.com experience.
Winner of the ConcretePumping.com life time achievement award.
A twenty-nine year veteran of the pumping industry, Rob Edwards has made his mark by developing safety programs, safety documentation, developing safety standards, and teaching pumping safety to thousands of pumpers in North America.
He was the technical and safety director of every ACPA safety video made since 1999, developed the Coworker Safety Manual, the Safety Rules for Concrete Mixer Drivers, and the Coworker safety training CD available from the ACPA. He created the ACPA Safety Seminar taught by a variety of instructors since 1994, and is a co-author of the ACPA certification book and test. He’s written articles for Concrete Pumping magazine, the ASCC newsletter, and Concrete Pumping.com. In addition, he was the Product Safety Manager for Schwing America for thirteen years, and is currently the Director of Product Safety and Development for Alliance Concrete Pumps. Many of the warning labels that are attached to new pumps by all manufacturers were his handiwork, and he was the original author of Schwing America’s new Operation Manual. Until his job change, he supervised those who produced the manuals at Schwing America. He is the author of the Safety Manual distributed by Schwing America, and through the ACPA, to all manufacturers. The Safety Manual has also been translated into Spanish and French, and adapted by the Australian Concrete Pumping Association for use by it’s members.
He is currently the President of the Concrete Pump Manufactures Association, Chair of the ASME B30.27 (Material Placement Systems) Committee, which publishes the safety standard to which pumps are manufactured, serves on four committees of the ACPA, and serves on the CSA standards committee for Pump Safety, currently under development in Canada. He was a recipient of the American Concrete Pumping Association’s Pioneer Award in 2004.
When asked about all of his accomplishments regarding safety, Rob defers any credit due to his former boss, Tom Anderson.
“Tom was the man with the vision of developing safety information for the pumping industry. He gave me project after project, then gave me the resources I needed to accomplish them. As it turns out, I had a knack for it, but it was Tom’s leadership that drove it. The entire industry owes him a debt of gratitude. By accepting this award, I acknowledge that I now owe him another beer. If he’d ever collect on all the beers I owe him, we’d have to be carried home. My current employers share Tom’s enthusiasm for the industry and they live by the same motto: If you want to be an industry leader, then lead.”
Rob also acknowledges the efforts of those around him who worked diligently to get all of the safety information to the field. “Les Ainsworth is a tireless worker,” Rob said. “If you give ten guys a video or a script to proof, Les is always the first person to turn it in, and every sentence has been scrutinized for accuracy. Additionally, I’ve had enormous help from Dan Mace, Jim Bury, Duane Remus, Christi Collins, Denny Rask, and Mark Berggren— I know I’m missing some people, and I just hope they forgive me for my faulty brain.”
There’s nothing faulty about his thinking when it comes time to keep the people on a job site safe. He estimates that he’s given up eighty-four weekends to teach safety seminars since he developed the first one in 1994. That’s almost a year-and-a-half of weekends that he spent talking to pumpers about safety instead of lounging around the house.
“I don’t think of it that way,” he said. “If I can prevent one guy from having a life-changing accident, then it was all worth it. The problem is that you never know if a person didn’t have an accident because of you. Nobody ever calls to tell me what didn’t happen yesterday. They only call when somebody DID have an accident. That’s the nature of the safety biz.”
Rob Edwards started in the pumping industry in 1978 when he was hired as a pump operator. At that time, he’d never seen a concrete pump. Unemployed, he was enrolled at the University of Minnesota Institute of Technology with plans to become an electrical engineer. He didn’t know how he was going to pay for it, and was actively searching for a job. His high-school friend, Ric Berndt, was working for E-Con Placer as an operator in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area and happened to stop by Rob’s apartment one day when there was an early afternoon pumping job cancellation. He informed Rob that they were looking for help at E-Con, and the job paid very well. When Rob asked why they would want somebody who had never seen a pump, Ric told him that they’d lost three of their eight operators to accidents that summer and were getting kind of desperate to find people. Two of the operators were killed when they hit powerlines, the third had cut off an arm in a concrete valve. While the job sounded dangerous, Rob really needed the money so he applied the next day.
He was hired immediately and put to work the following morning. He rode with a veteran operator for three days, operated under the operator’s supervision one more day, and was pronounced ready to go. Because of the circumstances surrounding his hiring, Rob says he paid very close attention to safety. In spite of it, because of the lack of training materials available, he made lots of mistakes and had a couple of close-calls. He didn’t forget those lessons when the opportunity to develop training materials arose.
Rob considers the time he spent as an operator like ‘basic training.’ “It gave me an appreciation for what happens on a pumping job,” he said. “Laying out a bunch of rules that nobody could ever live by on a job site would be a waste of time for everybody. I’ve been there, so I know. There are rules that you must abide by, and rules that you are forced to break because they were developed by somebody in a classroom, with no idea of the circumstances you face. I try to make sure that every safety rule developed has a real-world foundation, so operators don’t have to choose if it should be kept or broken.”
By 1980, he realized he didn’t have to go to college to have a good career, and never did manage to get back to school. He has some regrets about that, but it was a lucky break for the pumping industry.
Todd Bullis and ConcretePumping.com would like to thank Rob for all of his efforts in the concrete pumping industry.
Rob Edwards NBIS