Guide Promotes Safe Practices for Working With Concrete
At a time when NAHB and others in the home building industry are stepping up efforts to educate employers and employees about how to work safely with cement and concrete, a new guide from the Portland Cement Association (PCA) provides simple suggestions and precautions to prevent eye injuries or skin irritation when working with the material.
The Portland Cement Association points out that concrete is one of the safest building materials to work with when a few basic precautions are observed. “Over the years, relatively few people involved in mixing, handling and finishing concrete have experienced injury,” the association says.
Included in the information provided by PCA’s guide, “Working Safely With Concrete”:
- It is essential to protect the eyes when working with cement or concrete because they are particularly vulnerable to blowing dust, splattering concrete and other foreign objects. On some jobs it may be advisable to wear full-cover goggles or safety glasses with side shields.
- Prolonged contact between fresh concrete and skin surfaces, eyes and clothing can result in burns, including third-degree burns. Workers are advised to consult a physician if irritation persists and to seek medical attention immediately for deep burns or large affected skin areas.
- The sand contained in fresh concrete can be abrasive to the skin and the strong alkalinity of concrete and other cement mixtures can be caustic to skin. When it is drying, Portland cement absorbs water and will draw water away from any material it contacts, including skin.
- Clothing that is worn as protection from fresh concrete should not be allowed to become saturated with moisture from fresh concrete because the clothing can then affect the skin.
- Workers should wear waterproof gloves, a long-sleeved shirt and long pants. If they have to stand in fresh concrete while it is being placed, screeded or floated, they should wear rubber boots that are high enough to prevent concrete from getting into them.
- The best way to avoid skin irritation is to wash frequently with pH neutral soap and clean water.
- During finishing operations, waterproof pads should be used between fresh concrete surfaces and knees, elbows and hands. Eyes and skin that do come into contact with fresh concrete should be flushed thoroughly with clean water. Clothing that is saturated by fresh concrete should be rinsed out promptly with clear water to prevent continued contact with the skin.
For more information on cement, the brochure recommends consulting with the manufacturer’s material safety data sheet (MSDS).
The illustrated guide also contains information on proper lifting techniques and protection for the public. An ideal handout for tool-box safety meetings, it is being sold in packages of 100 for $35. To order, click here.
For more information on the issue of cement and worker safety, e-mail George Middleton at NAHB, or call him at 800-368-5242 x8590.
New Event From NAHB: 2005 Concrete Technologies Tour
Tour several cement and concrete production facilities to learn and experience first-hand the technologies and considerations going into this fast-growing market segment — from swimming pools and homescaping products to concrete exterior walls and more ― as part of the Concrete Technologies Tour from June 26-28 in Kansas City, Mo. Capitalize on the growing popularity of residential concrete construction by learning from industry experts and network with builders, manufacturers and designers from across the country. For information or to register, click here.