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Construction jobsites are full of hazards, and concrete construction jobsites are no exception.

Cement comprises 7-15% of total concrete volume. As an alkaline material, wet cement is caustic, and can cause severe chemical burns to exposed skin and eyes.

English: A bag of Portland cement being mixed ...

English: A bag of Portland cement being mixed with sand and water. 1 part cement is used for 3 parts sand; water is added until smooth but not fluid. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Thus, working with fresh concrete presents an obvious risk. That’s why it’s so important to always wear water-proof gloves, a long-sleeved shirt, full-length trousers, and proper eye protection.

Indirect contact through clothing can be as serious as direct contact, so promptly rinse out wet concrete, mortar, cement or cement mixtures from clothing. And always seek immediate medical attention if you have persistent or severe discomfort.

In addition to the caustic nature of cement, 95% of cement particles are smaller than 45 µm.—compared to tobacco smoke of approximately 3 µm—suggesting that the danger of inhalation is possible.

Workers opening bags or sacks of cement and cement products should always wear a dust mask in addition to their regular safety attire.

As a practice, concrete placement and finishing is one of the most benign forms of construction.

However, certain practices associated with concrete construction contribute to risks.

The use of cranes for lifting and placing concrete buckets, for tilt-up concrete panels, and for lifting precast members present hazards to the finishers and erectors.

Concrete pumping, hydro-demolition, or shotcreteing operations where high pressures are generated in hoses prompt safety concerns for the nozzlemen.

Reinforcement construction can demand heavy materials, protruding steel, oxyacetylene torches or welding equipment, and height sources, each of which introduces a safety hazard either singularly or in any combination.

Post-tensioning operations impart stresses nearly equal to the yield strength of prestressing tendons – which can be 250,000 psi.

Such forces are dangerous to jack-operators or on-looking personnel.

Precast plants with heavy table forms, consolidation equipment, and curing rooms must follow safety procedures.

The general condition of the jobsite can also be hazardous. Cramped, confined projects or sections of a project affect operations and safety.

Locations exposed to traffic, utility wires, excavations, or hazardous materials can produce unsafe conditions.

Even weather (rain, standing water, heat) can result directly in injury or combine with another risk to inflict injury to workers.

When potential hazards are considered and combined with preventive measures, the occurrence of work-related injuries and death can be significantly reduced.

In general, hardhats and hearing protection are always necessary on a construction site when overhead hazards and loud or sustained noise is present. When working with cement, sand, or any other fine material, the use of a respirator is necessary.

All equipment should be properly maintained and equipped with manufacturer-recommended safety devices.

All workers should be trained and tested by the manager or superintendent before operating any equipment.

Knowledge of the hazards associated with specific equipment is the first line of defence against injury.

Although anyone may recognize a safety hazard, it is the responsibility of the manager to provide a safe jobsite for workers.

As such, the manager or superintendent should ensure that potential hazards at the project site are identified and corrected or, at minimum, made known to employees.

(this article published in 1BINA.my)