What Health & Safety Measures Are Needed When Working With Concrete?
Concrete is one of the most popular and commonly used building materials in the world. Its versatility and strength make it incredibly useful for a wide range of commercial and industrial construction purposes.
With its widespread use and availability, it’s important to take every precaution to ensure that anyone working with concrete – on projects large or small – does so safely.
This month we’re looking at the specific health and safety measures you should enforce to keep workers safe from harm when working with concrete, and the dangers that working with concrete can bring.
Personal protective equipment (PPE)
One of the main hazards involved with working with concrete relates to contact of concrete with the skin, as well as inhalation of dust from hardened concrete. Operatives who handle or lay wet concrete, as well as those who are tasked with cutting or maintaining dry concrete, should be properly outfitted at all times to minimise risk.
Wet concrete can cause severe burns and irritation, as well as contact dermatitis, if the skin is directly exposed. Suffering from any, or all, of these will have a dramatic impact on a worker’s quality of life, and will make it impossible for them to carry out their work – which will affect the productivity and efficiency of the worksite. Workers should be outfitted correctly with the following PPE:
- gloves – strong, alkali resistant to protect against burns, rashes and irritation.
- long sleeves – skin protection is a priority, so long sleeves should fully cover the arms so that wet concrete cannot penetrate or bypass to the skin.
- full length trousers – providing tough, comprehensive protection to the legs.
- impervious work boots – workers can tuck trousers into boots for maximum coverage.
- safety glasses – contact between wet concrete and the eyes can be severely damaging, so proper eyewear should be worn to fight against splashing.
Respiratory problems become a factor with dry concrete, so for operatives working in dry, dusty areas and those cutting, drilling or even sweeping hardened concrete should also wear effective respiratory equipment.
It’s important to maintain a high standard of personal safety on the worksite, and proper PPE will help mitigate much of the dangers associated with working with concrete in all forms.
Transporting and laying concrete
When transporting concrete around the worksite it’s always best to plan ahead. The site should be clear of obstructions to allow easy access throughout the site for workers.
Volumetric trucks allow for pumps to deliver the concrete directly to the pour site – eliminating the need for wheelbarrows and manual transportation – however, if wheelbarrows are necessary you should be careful not to overload them. Heavy wheelbarrows pose a threat to anyone on site, and can cause serious injuries to workers as well as unnecessary complications to the job, should they tip over and spill to the ground.
Workers should use correct lifting techniques to avoid muscle injuries and transport the concrete along clear, easy to navigate pathways in manageable loads.
No matter how the concrete is delivered, transported and laid, workers should be wearing the correct PPE, which we outlined above.
Working directly with concrete
Whether it’s laying wet concrete or cutting, trimming or otherwise working with dry concrete, it’s critical to stay safe whenever you are working directly with concrete. PPE will provide full skin protection and will be the main barrier between you and the concrete. If you notice that your equipment is damaged in any way, you should look to replace it immediately before continuing work. You should also thoroughly wash the equipment once the work is finished.
If concrete does come into contact with the skin, workers should wash the affected area with cold running water immediately. If it’s the eyes which are affected, rinse them thoroughly and visit the hospital for professional medical attention.
Preparation is vital, so put time into inspecting the site and locating any hazards that may be present – such as loose or unstable ground, or the presence of electric cables/wires. Make sure the pour site can be reached both manually and by concrete pump, and stay alert during the pour itself in order to identify and respond to any accidents or faults that might occur.
Worker safety should be the priority during any job, so keep them informed of site conditions and allow them to have their own input on how the job is performed. Doing this, while implementing proper PPE requirements and safety measures during the project, will help ensure a safe working environment for all. For more information on the health and safety concerns of concrete, take a look at our health and safety data sheet.
Ever Readymix Concrete are professional, reliable and efficient suppliers of ready mix concrete to commercial and domestic clients throughout the Yorkshire region. Our highly trained workers maintain a high standard of safety at all times and ensure prompt delivery of high quality concrete mixed to your requirements, suitable for jobs of any scale. For more information on our services, contact our friendly team today – we are always happy to help.