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Concrete Work Toolbox Talk

Learn the hazards, precautions, and best safety practices for concrete work in construction.

Concrete Work Safety Talk

Concrete work is a very hard and physically demanding job that can result in lots of injuries because of the many hazards it presents. There are more than 250,000 people who work with concrete everyday and of those around 28,000 are injured each year.

Hazards of Concrete Work

There are several hazards that can pose a risk to employees working with concrete, it does not matter if it is dry or wet concrete.

Dry Concrete

Dry concrete can irritate the eyes, nose, throat, and upper respiratory system. Skin contact may result in "concrete burns" and ailments ranging from moderate irritation to thickening or even cracking of the skin. If employees are exposed to silica dust for long periods of time they also run the risk of developing silicosis and/ or lung cancer.

Wet Concrete

Wet concrete can still pose health hazards if you have overexposure. So always use precautions around both dry and wet.

Poor Ergonomics

When working with concrete other health hazards can develop that most workers do not normally expect. Improper lifting, awkward postures, and repetitive motion can often lead to sprains, strains, and other musculoskeletal disorders.

Concrete Dangers

Concrete construction accidents can happen in many different ways, When working on or around concrete you have to continually be vigilant and safe. Some common mishaps that can cause an accident with concrete include:

  • Workers falling on concrete slabs

  • Workers being crushed by slabs falling from cranes or forklifts

  • Workers being pinned in between two slabs

  • Workers suffering heat stroke while cleaning and working

  • Workers being impaled on rebar sticking out of concrete slabs

  • Workers getting caught in concrete mixers or even covered with concrete

  • Workers being blinded or burned by chemicals in concrete

Most of these accidents are pure chance but the risk is still there and the risk increases if employees are not paying attention and are negligent.

concrete being poured on construction site.

Concrete Work Safety Practices

Concrete is used on most construction sites and some hazards come along with forming, placing, and finishing concrete. Hazards can come by being exposed to concrete dust as well as wet concrete, machine guarding, and falling objects. Some ways to protects yourself include:

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

  • PPE includes wearing heavy-duty waterproof gloves and slip-resistant boots

  • Gloves need to be long enough to protect your arms up to your elbow

  • Boots should be high enough to protect your legs

  • If you are kneeling, protect your knees at all times

  • Safety glasses should be worn to prevent concrete from splashing in your eyes

Concrete Placement

  • Use extreme caution when stepping on forms and tied rebar that may not support your weight

  • If you are using a concrete bucket watch for pinch points

  • Maintain good communication with the concrete pump operator

  • If using rebar caps make sure to replace it if it falls off

  • Watch for tripping hazards that can be hidden in concrete

  • When placing concrete vertical make sure you use proper fall protection

Finishing Concrete

  • Before using a bull float, check for overhead electrical hazards, some of the handles can be over 20 feet long

  • Power trowels need to have positive or dead man's switches only

  • If you are using chemicals to finish the concrete, make sure you read the SDS

  • If dust is created by dried concrete watch out for silica hazard

  • When pulling vertical forms, stay out of the fall areas and make sure warning signs are used

Minimize Poor Ergonomics

  • Use hand trucks and forklifts when possible

  • Utilize proper lifting techniques, bend and lift with your knees

  • Ask for assistance if needed

  • Avoid twisting while carrying a loud and shift your feet and take small steps in the direction you want to go

  • Keep floors and work areas clear to avoid tripping and slipping hazards

General Precautions

  • If you are eating and drinking only do so in dust-free areas to avoid ingesting cement dust

  • Communicate with other employees if you see a problem or hazard let someone know

  • Pay attention to what is going on around you and help each other out

  • Be sure to understand how to perform all your job duties and how to use the tools and equipment safely

  • Make sure your equipment is working properly before each use

  • Never overload hoists, cranes, or forklifts

  • If you are using a vehicle make sure it is in good working order with audible backup warning signals

Manufacturing Concrete Hazards

Manufacturing concrete can pose health and safety risks for all workers involved also. The most common OSHA citations are:

  • Hazard communication

  • Lockout/tagout

  • Confined spaces

  • Respiratory protection

  • Guarding floor and wall openings and holes

  • Electrical wiring methods

  • Noise exposure

  • Forklifts

  • Electrical systems design

  • Machine guarding

If you are working in and around the manufacturing of concrete make sure you know the OSHA standards to keep yourself and fellow coworkers safe.

What To Do If Exposed To Concrete

If you follow all safety precautions and you still are exposed to hazards involving concrete there are some things you should do:

  • Flush your eyes using a full eyewash station if they encounter concrete dust

  • Use soap and water to wash off any dust that has come in contact with skin to avoid damage and concrete burns

  • If flushing eyes or using soap and water do not relieve some irritation then you should consider going to the hospital for further treatment.

  • Always make your supervisor aware of any injury you may have.

In Conclusion

Construction workers or concrete contractors working with concrete may be exposed to several different hazards throughout the process. They must be aware of the necessary precautions and know how to implement these precautions in everyday work. Should you have a safety concern please let your supervisor know or should an injury occur report it as soon as possible.

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