It is suppose to rain today. Typical spring day in the south. The earth needs the moisture and the pumpers need the job sites to be just wet enough so that the ready mix trucks can not get to the slabs. Life is good; then why am I worried? Every year people are killed by lightning strikes. It sometimes, though not often, comes with out warning. These “strikes out of the blue” as they are called happen. Some electrical activity is created well in advance of a storm. Most people however are given fair warning. Heed that warning. When your boom is in the air and you see an approaching storm; pay attention. The difference between the speed of sound and the speed of light is a good tool for survival. Sound travels (about) 1150 feet per second (that is about 4 ½ seconds to travel 1 mile) light travels …………. Well let us just say that it takes a beam of light just over one second to travel from the earth to the moon. So for this particular discussion, when you SEE the lightning it just happened. How willing are you, as the responsible party, to risk not only your life but the lives of the pouring crew and the mixer driver? Even if you are feeling particularly lucky can you take that chance with the life of others? How safe is safe? Do you want the headline that makes you famous to be “Concrete Pump Boom Struck by Lightning Killing Four and Badly Injuring Six Others”? The ‘when’ of when do you lay your boom down is up to you. It is nice to have a rule, or ordnance to guide you. [Don’t allow your boom to be closer than 17 feet to any energized power line] is a good example. I know of no such “absolute” rule as pertains to lightning. Knowledge, common sense, survival instinct and your care of your fellow man are about your only tools you have to make this decision. How safe is safe? Using the old – one thousand one – one thousand two – one thousand three rule between seeing a strike and hearing the thunder; my personal comfort level is FIVE. When I see the strike and hear the thunder before I can get to the count of five it is time to tell everyone to get away from the boom and to begin to lay it down. I do not fold it up I do not suck a sponge, I just, as quickly as possible, get the boom out of the air and rest it on the ground making as low a profile as possible under the circumstances. It is then time to grab the (wireless – not cable) remote and get in the cab of the truck. Don’t forget to tell the mixer driver what you are doing as he is at risk as well. Perhaps I am lucky. Perhaps I am overly cautious. I have no way of knowing. The only thing I know for sure is I am still alive. Every one I have ever poured for survived the experience. No one that worked for me, or took my advice about this issue ever died as a result. And that was just exactly the result I was hoping for.

Written By Bob Sanderson Published by