Hopper Dumping Tips & Strategies – Construction

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Dumping the sweeper hopper is a normal part of each shift. Sometimes multiple times per shift.  There are lots of hazards to look out for.

In this lesson you will learn:
  • Dumping do’s and don’ts
  • Tips on what to look out for
  • Safety things to look for
  • Perhaps some things that may be new (please discuss with your boss)
We dump our sweepers every shift, often many times per shift.  Different job types and different sweepers each require some unique habits.  Below we have broken dumping down into three areas.  Keep in mind there is a lot of overlap and skill transfer.
  1. Large Air & Broom Sweepers dumping into bins or roll-offs
  2. Large Air Sweepers dumping on the ground
  3. Large Broom Sweepers dumping into dump trucks

1: Dumping into bins or roll-offs

Only dump into approved/authorized dumpsters/containers.  Your company could lose a contract for this simple mistake. If the dumpster has a lid, be aware of the noise generated if you simply let the lid fall.  If you are near homes or other areas the noise could be a nuisance, this could generate a complaint. Always check BEHIND and ABOVE sweeper before backing up or raising the hopper!  Carefully check for overhead clearance restriction such as wires, awnings or overhanging roofs. Always check if anyone is standing in immediate proximity to the dumpster or rear of the unit.  Persons could be injured, coated with debris, or inhale escaping dust. You also could find someone sleeping or scavenging.  In the dark, this could scare both of you pretty good. Back up slowly!  Tap, DON’T BUMP the canister/dumpster. When backing listen for your back-up alarm.  If you don’t hear it no one else will. Stop and figure out why. Is your back-up camera working and clear?  If not, give it a quick cleaning…now! People have died because of a dirty back-up camera. Put the truck in ‘PARK’ and engage the emergency brake before dumping. Never move the sweeper with the hopper in the up position (while dumping). Thoroughly clean debris screens to insure more effective vacuuming performance.  Use a broom to reach up and sweep away remaining light debris trapped in screens.  On larger sweepers, you may need to lower the hopper in order to clean the screens. You could also use the onboard water spray hose if your truck has one. NEVER GET UNDER A RAISED HOPPER UNLESS SAFETY CHOCKS HAVE BEEN PUT IN PLACE FIRST.  The safety chocks will look different on your vehicle. If the hopper is carrying a significant amount of vacuumed water and truck is equipped with a hopper drain, first drain the water down a storm drain or other safe area before dumping into dumpster/canister.  This will prevent dumpster leaks, surface stains, and unpleasant odors.  (Check with your supervisor as this may be illegal in some areas) If you plan to have the hopper raised for longer than the time needed to dump the debris, place the safety chocks on the dump cylinders.  This also applies when the hopper is being washed out or anytime you may have it in the raised position. If the safety chocks were used, remove them (stow them)  and make certain the area under the hopper is clear before lowering. Never use safety chocks with material in the hopper.  Safety chocks can not be relied on to safely hold a loaded hopper. Be neat and tidy at all times!  Clean-up any spill over on the sides or front of the container/dumpster prior to leaving the site.  Close the lid to prevent wind from carrying off light debris. As a courtesy, notify owner if container/dumpster is full/nearly full. Plan your dumping, since the sweeper operates better with less debris in the hopper, it will often save you time to dump twice, rather than waiting until the end of the job and dumping a very full hopper. Above is a very full hopper.  The sweepers we operate are amazing tools. In this case, the dump site was quite a distance so it made sense to completely fill the sweeper.  However, a different type of load, say all dirt might create a weight issue requiring you to dump much sooner. Some other types of debris could get hung up getting this full. When considering the weight, it is not just about how much you weigh traveling to the off-load site.  Some jobs you can fill up 3/4 fairly quickly, then several hours picking up almost nothing.  If possible, dump the 3/4 load.  No need to force your sweeper to haul about 3/4 load all day.  It will pick up better, handle better and use less fuel being almost empty.  Take care of your sweeper, and it will take care of you! Never dump over an open pit or dock is a good general rule.  However, some locations have this as a requirement. Always, Take 5, and do a walk around each time you have to dump. The permanent location below was made for this type of dumping. On construction sites, temporary conditions like this require lots of caution – up to and including finding an alternative. In the above picture there is a safety chock to (help) prevent the sweeper from backing up too far.  This type of dumping requires careful consideration. Perhaps even sending a picture to your boss before you dump.

New, interesting, sketchy or unusual places to dump

Before moving on, construction sites are ever changing.  Depending on the company running the site, safety may or may not be a priority to them.  However, it ALWAYS has to be for you.  If/when (it’s only a matter of time) you encounter something you are not sure about or causes you to scratch your head – check with your boss. Perhaps not the “masculine” thing to do, but it sure beats sending a picture of a damaged sweeper after the fact. Even studs with a CSO tattoo will call their boss when needed.

2: Large Air Sweepers dumping on the ground

Always dump on level ground is a great rule. Make sure you know where to dump and have permission to do so. Be sure emergency brake is set, brooms are up and pick up head is up. Be sure to leave enough room behind you as to not damage the dump door when opening the hopper door. If sweeper is a high dump… Use the same procedures and precautions as if dumping a high- dump broom sweeper. If dumping on dirt, always use “electric over hydraulic” option (if equipped) so debris and dust are not being blown all over. If you have been sweeping in the rain and are dumping… Take precautions! There may be excess water inside the hopper. (Slowly open hopper door to minimize the deluge of water that may come out.) Also, always take precaution in checking/opening side inspection door of the hopper when sweeping in the rain… Hopper may be full of water! After dumping your load, visually inspect hopper to make sure that it is empty.    Many unhappy operators have driven to the off-load site, tipped the hopper and driven back to the work area, only to find they had a hung load. Check to make sure that hopper screen is clear of trash and debris Never hit hopper screen with a shovel or side of the hopper with a hammer (damage may occur) Use “hopper deluge” (if equipped) to clean hopper and screen Washout hopper and screen at the end of day Remove any excess debris if needed before leaving dumpsite

3:  Large Broom Sweepers dumping into dump trucks

Always dump on level ground. You the sweeper operator decides if the location is safe. If the dump truck wants you to dump on a hill or other unsafe area, you may have to use some tact or diplomatic persuasion to get him/her to move.  Don’t be afraid to mention if it is not level the sweeper may damage the dump truck.  This often gets more cooperation. Always check overhead clearance (trees, wires, rooftops, roadway signage, overpasses, bridges, etc.) When dumping into a dump truck; Check that it is the correct truck and you are not dumping into a truck with clean asphalt. Always make eye contact/Communication with the driver so that you both know that you were dumping into the truck. Make sure that sweeper is close enough to the truck for dumping Make sure there is enough room in the truck for your load of debris Raise hopper and use hopper slide out (if equipped) to center load over the truck Check again for proper clearance Raise hopper and dump debris. Visually inspect hopper to make sure all the debris has exited the hopper. (remove any excess debris). Close and lower hopper completely Make sure that hopper is fully lowered, and conveyor has come fully forward into hopper opening before driving away Release the emergency brake and proceed to exit away from dump truck DO NOT lett driver of dump truck pull away!! (Sweeper should always pull away first as to not cause damage to both vehicles) Always pull away slowly and gradually as to not damage mirrors or fenders on either vehicle

Bonus Section:

Mentioned in the lesson on Arriving on the Job: Make sure the dump location is appropriate or that the job site actually has one BEFORE you start sweeping.  It is not uncommon for one time jobs to get the sweeper full and then try and make it the sweepers problem to get rid of it. Always make sure that you know where to dump and that you are dumping into the right truck or at the right dumpsite! **Note: always make sure you are dumping on the customer’s dime and not your own. Do not get signed out from your project until you have to dumped your load!   This takes some pre-planning.  If you are working to a set time, say 3:00, plan to be done dumping and getting your ticket signed at 2:55 pm.  (this assumes you know where the person is that you need to check out with) Another scenario is when the customer drives up and says “Great job, let me sign your ticket.”  In this case, simply tell the customer you still need to go dump and add the time to the ticket.            
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