Remote-Controlled (RC) Concrete Finisher

A radio-controlled concrete finisher is lighter than a traditional walk-behind power trowel and can be operated from up to ¼ mile away.


A remote-controlled (RC) concrete finisher is an engineering control that reduces pushing, pulling, stooping and kneeling while finishing concrete.  A six-channel transmitter adjusts the pitch and RPMs, and maneuvers the finisher forward, backward, side-to-side and rotationally. 

A RC concrete finisher is 40 in long, 20 in wide, and weighs 90 lbs.  A 50 cc 4-stroke (2.5 HP) Honda engine powers the finisher and a DC generator powers all electronic equipment on the finisher.  The finisher features T66061 billet aluminum guardrails to protect the stainless steel trowels (Figure 1).  The transmitter controls the trowel pitch between 0 – 35° and RPMs between 0-120.

Figure 1.  RC Concrete Finisher

Risks Addressed:

Heavy or repetitive pushing, pulling and continuously stooped or kneeling postures during concrete finishing can cause MSDs.  Heavy or repetitive pushing or pulling can cause low back disorders, such as muscle strain or a disc herniation (“slipped disc”).  Overexertion can also lead to muscle strains, characterized as partial tearing and separation of muscle fibers.  Prolonged kneeling can cause bursitis.  Prolonged kneeling can also cause osteoarthritis of the knee (degenerative joint disease), which is deterioration of the cartilage in the knee joint.  A RC concrete finisher reduces risks of MSDs associated with repetitive pushing, pulling and continuously stooped or kneeling postures because the operator controls the finisher from a remote control.

How Risks are Reduced:

Traditionally, concrete is finished by pushing and pulling a walk behind power trowel, or by hand.  Power trowels weigh substantially more (120 – 315 lbs.) than a RC concrete finisher (90 lbs.), requiring more effort from workers when moving the trowel to and from a worksite.  Workers may also kneel or stoop to finish concrete by hand.  A RC concrete finisher is operated from a distance and does not require pushing, pulling, or stooped or kneeling postures. 

The manufacturer believes that a RC concrete finisher can reduce the risk of MSDs.  The manufacturer states, “at nearly half the weight of a standard walk behind power trowel, our machines are easy to carry… weighing in at only 90 lbs, [RC concrete finishers] easily transport from slab to slab.”   The manufacturer also believes that a RC concrete finisher will “…make physically demanding jobs easier” by reducing pushing, pulling, kneeling, and stooping.

Safety and health experts believe a RC concrete finisher reduces the risk of work related MSDs by decreasing carrying, pushing, pulling, kneeling, and stooping.

Effects on Productivity:

A RC concrete finisher improves productivity on the worksite

Additional Considerations:

The operator manual should be thoroughly read before operating a RC concrete finisher. Operators should practice navigating the finisher prior to use. 


Dan Anton, PT, PhD, ATC; and Kevin Wright, SPT – Eastern Washington University

Hazards Addressed:


To obtain information, visit Radio Controlled Concrete Finisher or contact 1-619-309-5015

Return on Investment

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