Concrete and Cement Safety

Concrete and cement like most products used in construction poses hazards if not properly handled with safety in mind. By taking basic precautions, workers can safely mix, handle, and finish concrete without incident. Here are tips that can be followed to prevent the occurrence of job-related injuries:

  • Wear the appropriate personal protective equipment when working with concrete and cement. This would include:
    • Waterproof gloves.
    • Long-sleeve shirts and long pants.
    • Respirators when appropriate.
    • Waterproof boots high enough to prevent concrete from flowing in when you must stand in fresh concrete.
    • Suitable eye protection such as full-cover goggles or safety glasses with side shields.
    • Hard hats when overhead hazards are present.
  • Mix dry cement in well-ventilated areas.
  • Do not ride on or work under concrete buckets.
  • When kneeling on fresh concrete, use a dry board or waterproof kneepads to protect knees from water that can soak through fabric.
  • Do not wear jewelry. Wet Cement can collect under jewelry and cause skin irritation.
  • Remove wet, cement-contaminated clothing quickly and wash the skin immediately with large amounts of cool, clean water, and pH neutral soap.
  • Don’t wash your hands with water from buckets used for cleaning tools.
  • Wash hands and face before eating, drinking, smoking or using the toilet, and before you leave the site to go home.
  • Change your shoes and clothes before getting into your vehicle to go home.
  • If you do come in contact with wet or dry cement:
    • Immediately wash the affected area with water.
    • Flush eyes with water for at least 15 minutes.
    • Clean and cover open sores with suitable dressings.
    • Report chemical burns or cement-related dermatitis to your supervisor.
  • Protect your back. When lifting heavy materials your back should be straight, and legs bent. Do not twist at the waist while lifting or carrying materials used to make concrete.
  • Position concrete as close as possible to its final position. Once the concrete is deposited it should be pushed, not lifted, into final position with a shovel.

Potential hazards for employees working with these products include:

  • Eye, skin and respiratory tract irritation from exposure to cement dust.
    • Eye contamination can cause redness, chemical burns and even blindness.
    • Skin irritation may be anything from contact dermatitis, allergic reactions, thickening or cracking of the skin to severe skin damage from chemical burns.
    • Silica exposure can lead to lung injuries including silicosis and lung cancer.
  • Overexertion and awkward postures.
  • Slips, trips and falls.
  • Chemical burns from wet cement.

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