Concrete work is inherently dangerous, and on a variety of levels. Crews often find themselves working in extreme temperatures or around heavy traffic, and the physical strain can pack a punch. One hazard that often goes overlooked, however, is the cement dust created when emptying bags into mixers or breaking finished concrete.
This seemingly innocuous substance (after all, who doesn’t come in contact with dust?) can wreak havoc when not handled properly. Among other concerns, the Electronic Library of Construction Occupational Safety & Health notes that dust can lead to skin irritation, chemical burns, blindness and lung disease. Luckily, protection is possible. We’ll outline a few key points here.
Whether your crew members are relatively new to working with concrete or they have decades of experience, proper attire makes a world of difference. Equip individuals with eye protection, gloves, long sleeves, boots and overalls to minimize bodily exposure. When the situation calls for it, respirators allow for easy breathing on the job.
Cover the ins and outs.
Even the most qualified individuals can become complacent on the job. It happens when the tasks at hand are performed so often that they become commonplace. Ensure ongoing safety for the entire team with regular safety training. Several times a year, tackle important issues such as cement dust safety with a lunch & learn or hands-on course. The simple refresher will serve as a healthy team-building opportunity, and will help bring about safer practices moving forward.
When crews are on a mission to complete a job, they don’t always tackle it in the best possible manner. Take a step back and evaluate their practices. Is your team working with appropriately-sized concrete blocks? Is there a way they could minimize the amount of dust released? Are they cleaning up properly at the end of the day? What about ventilation? Is there enough air circulating? Factor these and other questions into your daily routine for better all-around practices.