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How To Treat Concrete Burns

Posted on 3rd July 2018 by Ever Readymix Concrete

Taking the right safety measures when working concrete will ensure you remain free of health issues such as concrete burns. However, many people are unsure what to do when concrete causes an alkali burn. Too many people aren’t even aware that concrete can have a negative effect on skin when wet. It’s therefore important to know what to do if you receive a concrete burn while working with the material. Here we’ll cover why it happens, how to prevent it and what to do if you have a concrete burn.

What causes a concrete burn?

Dry concrete mix contains the relatively harmless calcium oxide. Once water is introduced to the mix, calcium oxide becomes calcium hydroxide, which is highly alkali (caustic). This means the ph of the concrete measures between 12-13ph. For comparison human skin has a neutral ph of 5.5 which is slightly acidic. The alkalinity of wet cement causes concrete burns, which are a form of chemical burn.

Initially, a concrete burn has little effect on the skin as the reaction happen slowly. This allows time for the burn to be treated effectively, however, if left the skin will become irritated, blistered or burned.

How to prevent concrete burns

As is always the case, prevention is better than cure. If you’re an employer whose employees work with concrete, training your staff to understand the causes and effects of concrete burns will be the best way to prevent it from happening in the first place. You’ll also benefit from providing the equipment necessary to treat a concrete burn effectively. This includes ph neutral soaps, clean running water, clean towels and topical sprays.

Another important aspect is personal protective equipment, whether you’re a professional or are undertaking DIY projects. Clothing with longs legs and sleeves should always be worn when dealing with concrete, as well as strong boots. Gloves and goggles are highly appropriate if there is a risk the concrete might become airborne such as when working at height. Make sure to wash workwear often and separately from your usual laundry, so that wet concrete doesn’t seep through fabrics and come into contact with skin.

How to treat a concrete burn

Immediately treating the affected area is the best course of action with any concrete burn. Without prompt attention, the consequences may involve dry, cracked skin, blisters burns and eventually scarring if the burn is particularly bad.

To start with, remove any saturated clothing that has wet concrete on it. Rinse and clean the affected area of skin with cool, clean water. After this step, you have the option to apply vinegar or citrus – both weak acids – which may go some way to neutralising the alkalinity of the burn. Neutral soaps are also moisturising and sanitary for the skin.

It is recommended that all concrete and chemical burns receive medical attention immediately. This is especially true if the burn is in a sensitive area, such as the eyes, mouth or nose. Always seek medical advice if a burn thought to be non-serious causes dermatitis or similar skin inflammations.

Ever Readymix Concrete is proud to be a leading supplier of readymix concrete to customers throughout the Yorkshire region. Our expert team work with you to find the optimal mix for your project, delivering it promptly to your site so it can be poured without fuss. To arrange a quote or site visit, or for more information about any of our services, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team today.