Concrete Construction Safety

Concrete workers are most susceptible to dermatitis. Wet cement is the #1 cause of occupational skin disease in the United States. Concrete workers lose work at 7 times the national average. Concrete workers report 4 times more lost work days than do all construction workers.

Cement has many properties which are damaging to skin. Cement is alkaline, or caustic. The pH of wet cement ranges from 12 to 13. Wet cement is one billion times more alkaline than normal skin and one million times more alkaline than water. Cement is hydroscopic, pulling moisture from the skin. Cement is abrasive. Cement may contain sensitizing chemicals and metals.

Best Protective Practices to Work with Wet Cement:

  • Keep concrete from your skin
  • Wash with clean water & pH neutral or mild acidic soap
  • Do not wear jewelry when working with concrete
  • Wear long sleeves
  • Use rubber boots with pants tapes inside for concrete work
  • Never let cement product remain on skin or clothing
  • Avoid barrier creams
  • Avoid skin products at work
  • Report any persistent skin problems to your supervisor & safety department

Appropriate PPE Protection:

  • Head Gear: If there is a danger of falling objects, wear a hard hat. If working in cold weather, wear a hat to keep the body warm.
  • Eye Protection: Wear safety glasses or goggles when pouring concrete. That way any splashing concrete stays out of your eyes.
  • Gloves: It makes common sense to protect our hands as much as possible. Wearing gloves protects against scratches and cuts and possible infection because of the chemical used in concrete.
  • Long Sleeve Shirt & Pants: This keeps concrete from splashing on your body. You can avoid burns that way.
  • Kneepads: Since concrete finishing often exposes knees to additional wear and tear, it makes sense to wear kneepads designed to take the stress rather than scraps of insulation held on by duct tape.
  • Rubber Boots: If wet concrete comes into contact with the skin for any lengthy period of time, we can get severe burns. Besides, it is easier to wash off rubber boots than to wash off and have wet feet with regular boots after pouring mud.

Remember: Just like roofers have to wear a full body harness, concrete workers need to protect themselves. Unlike roofers protecting against a fall, we have to protect ourselves against additional wear and tear on our bodies.