Along with quartz (crystalline silica), dry concrete contains calcium oxide. When it’s dry, calcium oxide can potentially cause respiratory irritation. The more serious hazard is when you add water to the concrete mix. When water mixes with calcium oxide, it forms calcium hydroxide, which is extremely alkaline (caustic) with a pH of 12 to 13.

Skin contact with calcium hydroxide can result in red, irritated or blistered skin. Calcium hydroxide contact can cause second- or third-degree burns that can form slowly over hours or days. Wet concrete is also hygroscopic, drawing water away from anything that holds moisture, including wet clothing or skin.

If your skin or eyes have been exposed to wet concrete, you need to take immediate action to reduce the severity of the injury:

  • Immediately wash the exposed area with clean water for approximately 20 minutes. Add vinegar to the water to help neutralize the alkalinity. Never use a water/vinegar solution to rinse the eyes.
  • Flush eyes with clean water and get immediate medical attention.
  • Remove and replace any wet PPE or clothing.
  • Wash all exposed skin areas, even if you are not aware of contact. Concrete burns can take hours to form.
  • Seek professional medical attention immediately and provide the medical personnel with the product Safety Data Sheet (SDS).


You must wear PPE to protect the skin and eyes from contact with concrete containing calcium hydroxide.

  • Safety glasses –create a barrier between your eyes and wet concrete with appropriate eye protection.
  • Chemical-resistant gloves – protect the hands with PVC, nitrile or neoprene gloves.
  • Rubber boots – prevent contact with the feet, ankles and calves. Take additional measures to prevent concrete from entering over the top of the boots.
  • Knee pads or boards – knees and lower extremities are susceptible to concrete exposure during finishing activities. Wear knee pads or use knee boards to prevent contact.

DO NOT DELAY in getting medical treatment if your skin is exposed to wet concrete. Delaying treatment can mean the difference between a mild burn and a severe injury.

Download a printable PDF and recording form here.

Members can download the audio version of this toolbox talk here.


Hose blowouts and hose whipping are serious hazards that can cause injuries while workers are pumping concrete.

Air trapped in a delivery line can cause hose blowouts and/or hose whipping. When the air is released, the end of the hose can whip and cause injury to workers in the area. Air in the delivery system itself is not the hazard. But when that air becomes compressed due to a blockage, it stores energy. The risk of a hose blowout or hose whipping happens when that energy discharges.

To minimize the risk during concrete pumping work, ALL personnel should be cautious and maintain a reasonable distance from the discharge hose when:

  • Restarting equipment after moving.
  • Priming the equipment.
  • There is air in the delivery line.
  • There is a blockage.

Establish a controlled-access zone around the pumping area to eliminate the potential of the hose striking a worker in case it gets away from the operator.

If you encounter a blockage, move the boom away from the pour to a safe location and re-establish flow before moving the boom back to the pour.

Additional safety measures include:

  • Ensure the pump operator has inspected the delivery pipe, and it isn’t cracked or worn.
  • Maintain visual contact with the operator or signal person.
  • Use a single-ended hose on the discharge.
  • Use guide/tag lines to guide the hose while pumping. Do not hug the hose.
  • Do not place yourself between the hose and a fixed object.
  • Maintain a 20-foot minimum approach distance from all overhead, energized, uninsulated powerlines with voltages of 0.1kV to 350kV.
  • For voltages exceeding 350kV, the minimum approach distance is 50 feet.

Download a printable PDF and recording form here.

Members can download the audio version of this toolbox talk here.


When working around Bid-Well, Gomaco or other types of concrete slip form pavers, workers need to follow basic safety measures to prevent injuries.


  • Workers must be familiar with the location of the emergency stop button.
  • Most emergency stop buttons are magnetic.
  • Test emergency stop buttons daily prior to use and position them near the hazard/point of operation.


A competent person must inspect the equipment daily before use to ensure it’s in good operating condition and all safety mechanisms are functioning properly.


  • Workers must be aware of slip, trip and fall hazards during concrete paving.
  • Watch for tools, materials and string lines that can cause trip hazards.
  • Walking on rebar mats with boots covered in wet concrete can create a slip and fall hazard. Watch your foot placement and avoid openings in the rebar mats. Walk where the rebar is joined or tied together.


  • Wet concrete can cause chemical burns.
  • Wear gloves and boots when working around wet concrete.
  • If your skin comes into contact with wet concrete, wash it as soon as possible.


  • Maintain constant awareness of all moving equipment in the work area.
  • Be aware of incoming and outgoing dump trucks, concrete trucks and other vehicles.
  • Train operators and other employees to recognize the hazards of the concrete paving process.


  • Properly guard all moving and rotating parts. Inspect equipment before use to ensure guards are in place and undamaged.
  • Workers should not wear loose clothing, jewelry or PPE that could be entangled in a rotating auger.
  • Walk around. Do not cross under a concrete paver when it’s in operation.
  • Stop the equipment and shut off the auger(s) during any cleaning operations.

Download a printable PDF and recording form here.

Members can download the audio version of this toolbox talk here.

Concrete and Cement Safety

Originally published 05/02/2018

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.

Download a recording form here.

Jackhammers and Chipping Concrete

Originally published 04/11/2017

It is sometimes necessary in bridge and highway repair, to remove small amounts of concrete. Compact pneumatic chipping hammers (jackhammers) are often used to do the job. These compact battering rams pack a lot of punch, and they can be dangerous if not used properly. Here are some common-sense tips provided by tool manufacturers.

Dress Appropriately to Protect Yourself

  • Everyone in the area should always wear impact-resistant eye protection.
  • Depending on the situation, wear a facemask or respirator.
  • Wear a hardhat, especially if there is a risk from falling objects.
  • Wear adequate clothing that fits properly.
  • Wear proper hearing protection.
  • Wear gloves to protect your hands and steel-tipped boots to protect your feet.
  • Set up screens to prevent nearby workers from being struck by flying fragments.

Inspect the Jackhammer and Tools Before Use

  • Carefully inspect the jackhammer for damage and make sure all controls and safety interlocks work properly.
  • Inspect air hose connections at the air compressor and the jackhammer for cracks, worn threads and loose couplings.
  • Inspect the safety clip or tool retainer for proper operation. This prevents the chisel/tool from being unintentionally shot from the barrel.
  • Check the chisel/tool for tightness of fit and excessive wear. Repair or replace when required, following the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Beware of Air Under Pressure

  • Never engage in horseplay with compressed air – it’s dangerous!
  • Always disconnect the tool when it is not in use or when you are changing accessories.
  • Never exceed the tool’s designated operating pressure.

Proceed With Caution

  • Always keep both hands on the tool.
  • Watch for excess lengths of the air hose, which can cause you to trip.
  • Never operate the tool without the chisel against the work surface.
  • Discontinue use if numbness, tingling, pain, or flushing of the skin occurs.
  • Prevent back injuries by using your leg muscles to lift the jackhammer into position.
  • Allow the tool to do the work by using a grip light enough to maintain control.
  • Always follow any special manufacturer instructions.

Work smart and work safe when using jackhammers or any other equipment on the jobsite.

Download the recording form here.