Certified vs. Qualified


Risk manager Kyle Rask weighs in on the ever-essential conversation surrounding concrete pump operator qualifications.

According to Kyle Rask, concrete pumping program & risk manager at NBIS, the distinction between the terms “certified” and “qualified” is an essential one that must be made.

“Certification has been great for the concrete pump industry in the sense that it ensures that operators have demonstrated competency in the general principles for concrete pump operations and theory,” Rask explains. “But we must remember that an operator is considered ‘in training’ even if they are certified, until such time that the operator has been evaluated on that specific machine — or a machine that is not substantially different — for the assigned task.”

There is a potential gap between being certified and being qualified on a concrete pump. “Some people have assumed that if you’re certified,” Rask says, “that you’re simultaneously qualified on all concrete pumps within that concrete pump designation. That simply isn’t the case. The good news, though, is that training is the bridge from certification to qualification.”

Rask, who spent a large portion of his career as a risk manager for a national concrete pumping company, said that it’s imperative that a concrete pump operator be familiar with the concrete pump’s inspection requirements, as well as how to properly set up the concrete pump in various configurations.

“What the concrete pump can do changes with each configuration,” Rask says. “How far the outriggers are extended, degree of level, boom length or boom full extension — every one of these variables has an effect on the working situation.”

Rask also notes the operator must be familiar with the concrete pump’s operating system, including any parameters of speed and torque that might be necessary to safely perform the assigned task in the configuration.

Rask adds that operators must also be familiar with the safety devices and shutdown procedures for the specific machine they are running. “The more comprehensive the training on the specific machine you are running, the higher the level of safety and efficiency for the operations of that machine,” he explains. “Training is the best form of risk management — and this training should be documented as a part of a company’s risk management and safety program.”

“There is a potential gap between being certified and being qualified on the machine you’re operating. Unfortunately, some people have assumed that if you’re certified, you’re simultaneously qualified on all concrete pumps within that concrete pump designation. That isn’t the case.”


“Employers also have a responsibility to train their operators in the safe operations of the equipment they will be running,” Rask warns. “Unless the certification process was done in your yard with your concrete pumps, it’s possible that the operator you employ hasn’t demonstrated any competency on the actual machine they will be operating.”

Recognizing that while some employers are already in line with the ASME B30.27 requirements (Jobsite Responsibilities for Concrete Material Placing Systems), Rask also points out that many employers are not — and that often comes down to concerns over time and money.

“It’s the classic hangup, right? How much time will it take, how much it’s going to cost,” he says. “An employer should never gamble on safety and liability with an unqualified person in the seat of a concrete pump. Costs notwithstanding, a concrete pump and a company will be safer, more effiicient and have less downtime — and they’ll be more productive — when the operators are trained properly.” Training, of course, can come from a variety of sources, including from the concrete pump’s manufacturer, industry associations like ACPA and the unions.

Rask also stresses that companies should designate a person or persons within the company as key personnel to both receive manufacture- direct technical training and deliver it to the operators in the field. “An example of this caliber person could be a lead operator or operations manager — these positions have already received some level of manufacturer training,” he says. “And remember, the trainer can be the evaluator. This is a very important step in the process.”


According to Rask, in the career of a concrete pump operator, training never ends — as few operators will work for one employer their entire career. “And even if a person does work long term at a concrete pump company,” he adds, “they’re still going to face new technology, new concrete pumps — and organic growth within the company. They will continue to operate more complicated concrete pumps as they progress through their career — and truthfully, it’s unreasonable to expect an operator to be familiar with all concrete pump manufacturers and models out there, although it has gotten better lately.”

He also explains that when it comes to the evaluation part of the process, he thinks ASME did their homework in getting a feel for what the industry needed.

“I think this is the final step in assuring that an operator is qualified to operate a concrete pump in the configuration it’s in for the assigned task,” he says. “I know that many people in the industry are concerned about the liability that could come from the evaluation, but I’m more concerned with someone in a concrete pump who isn’t qualified to run it. If evaluations are conducted according to the intent of the ASME B30.27 standards, then we will indeed make the industry safer.”

For more information and tips on this or any other part of your Risk Management plan, contact our experts at (877) 720-RMSS or visit www.nbis.com for more details on our services.