Concrete is composed of cement, sand, aggregate (sized stones), and water. When mixed in the correct amounts, concrete is a stable and versatile building medium which can be used in a variety of applications ranging from roads, bridges and buildings, to septic tanks and even countertops for household use. The versatility in building application is accomplished by altering the proportions of air and other variables in the mixture. Strengthening materials such as re-bar, fiberglass strands, and plastic rods are then added.

For your protection, the following precautions should be adhered to when working with concrete:

Try not to over-exert yourself when mixing or moving concrete, especially when using a wheelbarrow, shovel, or trough. Concrete is extremely heavy and caution must be taken to avoid back, shoulder, or other muscle strains. Keeping yourself physically fit and performing pre-work stretching exercises can aid in injury prevention.

Always wear safety glasses when mixing or pouring concrete. The lime and cement dust can be very irritating to the eyes. If it enters your eyes, rinse for 15 minutes. If eyes are still irritated, seek medical attention.

Always wear gloves and a long sleeve shirt, if possible, when working with concrete. The cement can cause irritation when it comes into contact with skin. Lime burns are common in the industry but can be lessened by barrier creams or gloves to protect hands and forearms from industrial dermatitis.

Read and heed the manufacturers’ recommendations on concrete additives, acids for etching, form release oils, or other chemicals used in conjunction with concrete. If you have any questions regarding the products you’re using or would like more information on how to protect yourself when working with concrete, ask your supervisor for assistance. Your supervisor should be able to recommend the correct Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for your specific task and can provide you with the appropriate Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS).

Construction Toolbox Talks Safety During Concrete and Masonry Construction All construction workers should be alert to the potential hazards associated with concrete and masonry operations. Among the most critical unsafe practices are:

  • Premature removal of formwork
  • Failure to brace masonry walls Failure to adequately support precast panels
  • Inappropriate operation of equipment
  • Failure to guard the end of reinforcing steel
  • Inadequate shoring, which can lead to formwork collapse

General safety requirements should always be followed on construction, demolition, alteration or repair worksites-not just because of OSHA standards, but because serious accidents and injuries may happen if they are not.

• Construction Loads: Construction loads must not be placed on a concrete structure unless it has been determined that the structure is capable of supporting the intended loads, based on information received from a person who is qualified in structural design.

• Reinforcing Steel: All protruding reinforcing steel, onto which an individual could fall, must be guarded to eliminate the hazard of impalement.

• Post-Tensioning Operations: No one (except those essential to post-tensioning operations) should be permitted behind the jack during tensioning operations. Signs and barriers must be erected to limit worker access to the post-tensioning area during tensioning operations.

• Concrete Buckets: Under no condition may employees ride concrete buckets.

• Working Under Loads: Never work under concrete buckets while the buckets are traveling, being elevated or lowered into position. Elevated concrete buckets must be routed so that no employee is exposed to the hazards associated with falling concrete buckets. •Personal Protective Equipment: Protective head and face equipment must always be worn when applying cementations grout through a pneumatic hose. A safety harness must be worn or equivalent fall protection provided while placing or tying vertical reinforcing steel and working more than 6 feet above any adjacent working surface.

• Masonry Construction: Whenever a masonry wall is being constructed, a limited access zone must be established prior to the start of construction. The limited access zone must be as follows:

Equal to the height of the wall to be constructed, plus 4 feet, and running the entire length of the wall

On the side of the wall that will be unscaffolded

Restricted to entry only by employees actively engaged in constructing the wall

Kept in place until the wall is adequately supported to prevent overturning and collapse. – If the height of the wall is more than 8 feet and unsupported, bracing must remain in place until permanent supporting elements of the structure are in place.

Be aware of the hazards of concrete and masonry operations and pre-plan your work!

Short cuts and haste can lead to painful accidents!