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.

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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.