Like many labor-intensive jobs there are inherently occupational safety hazards of working in the concrete construction industry. At Arco, we believe that you, your co-workers and supervisors should all take the necessary steps to eliminate any potential dangers that exist on your job site. When it comes time to start your next concrete construction job, plan in a way that prevents the following hazards:
1. Chemical Burns
2. Respiratory irritation, illness or infection
3. Injuries for improper lifting
4. Form blowout
5. Injuries from falling objects
6. Falls from elevated platforms
7. Vehicle accidents
Then, implement the guidelines mandated by OSHA to solve or eliminate the concrete industry hazard from your work zone!
Irritation, Dermatitis, and Burns
Any type of direct contact with wet concrete can quickly lead to skin irritation, dermatitis, or even a chemical burn. The chemicals in cement pull moisture out of anything to aid in the drying process. When cement pulls the moisture from skin, it leaves behind severely damage skin cells. Once concrete hardens, if left untreated, the skin will begin to blister, swell, and bleed, eventually becoming a second to third-degree burn.
OSHA reports that concrete workers in the U.S. lose four times as many workdays for skin problems compared to other construction trade workers. If you or your crew are working with fresh concrete, always wear protective equipment such as waterproof apparel, tall boots, alkali-resistant gloves, long pants, and long sleeves while on site. If skin irritation persists or in the case of a deep burn, seek medical attention immediately.
Exposure to dust from dry concrete mixtures can also irritate the respiratory system. Know that dust from sanding, grinding, cutting, pouring, and mixing concrete can find its way into the air you and your crew breath.
Therefore, OSHA requires employers to provide persons who perform or are in the area of any of the previously mentioned actions with suitable respiratory protective equipment. This equipment can include a P-, N- or R-95 respirator or face mask to minimize inhalation of cement-related air pollution on site.
Improper Lifting Injuries
Injuries from lifting are common on construction sites. However, they tend to be especially common with concrete construction due to improper lifting techniques. At about 150 pounds per cubic foot, even a small piece of concrete can weigh enough to cause serious, long-term damage.
Safe lifting procedures and load-carrying techniques will almost always prevent painful and expensive injuries on the job site. When moving items over 50 pounds, use a forklift or lift the load with another individual on the job site. If you must move heavy objects manually, lower and lift with the knees, not the back, and avoid twisting while carrying heavy items.
OSHA encourages employers to train employees on how to lift safely and to implement effective ergonomic (the science of designing the job, equipment, and workspace to fit the worker) programs. Doing so will help ensure a workplace free of hazards.
Often a concrete construction site requires large, heavy-duty pieces of construction equipment and vehicles to operate within a tight work zone. When vehicles and other types of mobile equipment are operated improperly by untrained workers, the risk of injuries increases greatly. It should be known that working on a highly active site is serious. This is not the place for anyone to cut corners or cheat on safety. Encourage your workers to remain highly vigilant and always pay attention. This will vehicle accidents to a minimum.
According to OSHA, you can further prevent concrete construction site accidents by:
• Allowing only workers who are extensively trained to operate equipment. (If a trained worker is not available, bring in an experienced outside professional for concrete pours and other specialty work.)
• Supplying workers with high-visibility safety apparel.
• Using temporary traffic barriers throughout the workspace to notify drivers of clearances, speed limits, duration and type of operations, volume of traffic, etc.
• Planning and setting up the work area in a way that allows for any possible type of maneuvers.
When using concrete formworks, blow-outs are a very scary but a real possibility. The term “blow-out” refers to a break in the form. Form blow-out is due to the pressure from liquid concrete during the concrete placement and consolidation. A blow-out can result in catastrophic effects not only on the structure itself, but injuring workers who may have been working on the structure.
OSHA states that formwork shall be designed, fabricated, erected, supported, braced and maintained so that it will be capable of supporting without failure all vertical and lateral loads that may reasonably be anticipated to be applied to the formwork.
Find a Supplier Who Mitigates Concrete Construction Hazards and Adheres to OSHA Standards
If site safety is a top priority of yours, you should find a concrete supplier who also values safety. Safety is something that is sure to come up during the pre-qualification process.