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 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 can still pose health hazards if you have overexposure. So always use precautions around both dry and wet.
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 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 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
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
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
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:
Guarding floor and wall openings and holes
Electrical wiring methods
Electrical systems design
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.
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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