Concrete can be hazardous in all its forms: powder, liquid, and solid; but for now, let’s focus on concrete when it’s wet. Why is it important to worry about safety when it comes to wet concrete? Because concrete is one of the most widely used construction materials there is, which means there are an untold number of workers who are exposed to these hazards on a daily basis. The biggest hazards include skin irritation, severe chemical burns, and serious eye irritation. Concrete can be safe when used appropriately and with the safety precautions that we’ll discuss here.
Wet cement (an ingredient in concrete) is caustic, abrasive and drying, so protect your skin. Wear appropriate PPE such as tall rubber boots, pants, waterproof gloves and long-sleeved shirts. While this PPE is great at protecting your skin, it needs to be used with common sense. Many times concrete can get trapped against the skin by falling into boots or gloves or when pants/shirts get soaked by concrete. This continuous contact with wet cement can cause severe chemical burns. If concrete comes into contact with your skin, it’s important to immediately wash off with clean water and replace any wet clothing or PPE. Don’t wait! Wet concrete left against the skin can cause third-degree burns and take many months to heal.
Other Safety Tips
Here are some other safety tips to keep in mind when working with wet concrete:
- Be sure to wear eye protection when working with wet concrete. Your eyes can be seriously injured due to splashing concrete. Wear safety glasses with side shields or safety goggles.
- Wet concrete can conduct electricity. All electric tools should be grounded and used with care.
- When raising or lowering concrete chutes, be aware of pinch points. These can take off a finger or hand if you’re not paying attention.
- Protect your back. Place wet concrete via chute, wheelbarrow or pump, as close to the work area as possible. Concrete should be pushed, not lifted, into place.
- Use waterproof knee pads or a dry board when kneeling to place or finish concrete.
Wet Concrete First Aid
It’s important to understand that you may not experience any acute symptoms right away if wet concrete touches your skin. But if you don’t wash the area as soon as possible with cold, clean water, you could end up with a serious burn. If a burning sensation continues or worsens even after you’ve flushed the area with water, seek medical attention. If wet concrete splashes into your eyes, flush them continuously with clean water for at least 15 minutes and then go to the hospital.
This information is provided as a service to you by Compliance Consultants, Inc.