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.

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Construction equipment and vehicles have blind spots that reduce or eliminate visibility for the operator or driver. If you’re working around this kind of machinery, make sure you’re careful to avoid blind spots.


  • If you can’t see the operator or driver (directly or through mirrors), they can’t see you.
  • Don’t cross directly in front of or immediately behind equipment or trucks without communicating (verbally or visually) with the operator or driver.
  • Coordinate with the operator or driver before approaching or performing any work on or near the equipment.
  • Pay close attention to a piece of heavy equipment that’s moving with a raised bucket.
  • Watch for sudden movements or changes in direction. This includes the booms of excavators and cranes.
  • Develop an internal traffic control plan with strategies to control the flow of workers, vehicles and equipment inside the work zone.
  • Reduce hazards for equipment operators:
    • Limit access points to work zones.
    • Establish pedestrian-free areas.
    • Develop work zone layouts to accommodate specific types of equipment.


  • Perform a 360° walk around the equipment or vehicle before you begin a work activity or move the vehicle.
  • Take the necessary precautions to prevent entry into an equipment’s swing radius (e.g., erect barricades, warning lines or other industry recognized procedures).
  • Use a spotter when movement would create a struck-by hazard or when there’s a lot of worker activity in the work zone.
  • Stop the machinery if someone needs to approach.
  • Set parking brakes when vehicles and equipment are parked. Chock the wheels if they are on an incline.

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Flaggers are critical to work zone safety. Their position on the front lines requires them to possess a specific skill set.


  • Wear ANSI Class 2 or Class 3 high visibility apparel.
  • Always be visible to traffic.
  • Follow the traffic control plan.
  • Always use approved stop/slow paddles.
  • Communicate specific instructions to motorists.
  • Respond in an emergency.
  • Allow time and distance for drivers to react.
  • Coordinate with other flaggers.
  • Maintain good approach sight distance.
  • Never stand in a moving traffic lane.
  • Always have an escape route.
  • Remove signs if you’re not flagging.
  • Stand alone on the shoulder in clear view.
  • Never stand in the open traffic lane.
  • Warn others in a work zone of dangerous situations.
  • Allow reaction distance from signs – the flagger station should be the same distance in advance of the work zone as the buffer length.
  • Never turn your back on traffic.
  • Do not stand where you can be struck by construction equipment.
  • Do not stand in the shade, over the crest of a hill or around a sharp curve where you can’t be seen.
  • Do not use your cell phone.
  • Do not listen to music or use earphones.
  • Do not leave your position until you are properly relieved.

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Chipping and hammering for concrete removal are common work activities in bridge work and repair. Workers use compact pneumatic chipping hammers and jackhammers to do the job. These compact battering rams pack a lot of punch, and they can be dangerous if you don’t use them properly. Here are some common-sense tips provided by tool manufacturers.


  • Safety glasses.
  • Face shield.
  • Hearing protection.
  • Hard hat.
  • Gloves.
  • Durable work boots with protective toes.
  • N95 or greater respiratory protection unless you’re using water for silica dust control.


  • Inspect the jackhammer or chipping hammer for damage and make sure all controls and safety interlocks work properly.
  • Check all couplings and accessories on all compressors and ensure that only correct, compatible couplings are in place.
  • Make sure safety or holding pins used on all hose connections are in place.
  • Inspect the safety clip or tool retainer for proper operation. This prevents you from unintentionally shooting the chisel or tool from the barrel.


  • Never exceed the tool’s designated operating pressure.
  • Never point a compressed air hose at yourself or anyone else.
  • Never use compressed air to blow dirt or debris from your clothes.
  • Always disconnect the tool when you’re not using it or when you are changing accessories.


  • Make sure that loose clothing doesn’t get caught in the equipment.
  • Verify that workers won’t encounter electrical or gas lines while performing the work.
  • Keep both hands on the tool.
  • Watch for excess lengths of the air hose, which can cause a tripping hazard.
  • Properly position your body while moving and using the equipment.
  • Allow the tool to do the work by using a grip light enough to maintain control.
  • Discontinue use if numbness, tingling, pain or discoloration of the skin occurs.
  • Always follow any manufacturer special instructions.

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Fuels can be highly flammable and, if handled incorrectly, these substances can make fueling equipment a dangerous task. Be aware of the hazards and follow proper prevention steps to avoid an accident.

  • NO SMOKING! A burning cigarette can ignite flammable vapors that are produced from the liquid fuel, causing a flash fire or explosion. Ensure there are no other potential sources of ignition, such as open flames or spark-producing equipment operating in the area.
  • Don’t use a cell phone or other electronic device use while fueling equipment.
  • Turn off the equipment or vehicle’s engine when you’re fueling it.
  • Only use DOT-approved safety cans for transporting and transferring fuels.
  • Never dispense fuel into a can or other portable container while it is sitting in your vehicle, truck or truck bed. This allows hazardous static electricity to build up.
  • Before dispensing fuel into your vehicle or equipment, physically touch a metal part away from the fuel tank on your vehicle or equipment to dissipate any static build-up on your body created when you slid out of your vehicle.
  • To prevent hazardous static electricity building up, make contact between the fuel dispenser nozzle or hose to the fill tube on the fuel tank before you start to add fuel to the tank, and keep it in contact throughout the entire refueling process.
  • Maintain a spill kit in your vehicle or near the fueling area.
  • Maintain at least one portable fire extinguisher rated not less than 20-B units located not less than 25 feet and not more than 75 feet, from any flammable liquid storage area located outside.
  • Regularly inspect hoses and pumps for deterioration or damage.
  • Clean up spills immediately using a spill kit and remove any clothing that has absorbed the fuel.
  • In the fueling area, maintain emergency response procedures and a list of company and local emergency contacts for prompt response in the event of an accident.

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According to OSHA, of the 4,779 worker fatalities in private industry in calendar year 2018, 1,008 or 21.1% were in construction — that is, one in five worker deaths were in construction. The leading causes of private sector worker deaths in the construction industry were falls, followed by struck by object, electrocution and caught-in/between. These “Fatal Four” were responsible for more than half (58.6%) the construction worker deaths in 2018.

Fall fatalities – 33.5%
Struck-by object fatalities – 11.1%
Electrocution fatalities – 8.5%
Caught-in/between fatalities – 5.5%


  • Correctly install and use personal fall arrest equipment.
  • Install and maintain guard rails and perimeter protection.
  • Cover and secure floor openings and label floor opening covers.
  • Inspect and use ladders and scaffolds correctly.


  • Do not place yourself between moving equipment and fixed objects.
  • Wear and maintain high-visibility clothes.
  • Use tag lines when moving suspended loads.
  • Inspect and use powered equipment correctly.
  • Use proper rigging techniques.


  • Properly slope or implement trench protection for excavations five feet or deeper.
  • Ensure guards are in place and in good condition on powered tools and equipment.


  • Locate and identify utilities before starting work.
  • Look for overhead power lines when operating any equipment.
  • Maintain minimum approach distance from power lines.
  • Use GFCI on all portable electric tools.
  • Be alert to electrical hazards when working with ladders, scaffolds or other platforms.

Download a printable PDF and recording form here.

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