CONCRETE POURS AND BLOWOUTS
Concrete mix and pour operations pose significant possible hazards to employees. Keep in mind, even the most basic of concrete worksites can be filled with safety hazards.
Respiratory irritation, illness, or infection
Injuries for improper lifting
Injuries from falling objects
Falls from elevated platforms
Irritation, Dermatitis, and Burns
Any type of direct contact with wet concrete can quickly lead to skin irritation, dermatitis, or worse, a chemical burn. Think about it–as concrete hardens it absorbs moisture. The chemicals in cement pull moisture out of anything to aid in the drying process. When cement pulls the moisture from skin, it leaves behind severely damage skin cells. Once concrete hardens, if left untreated, the skin will begin to blister, swell, and bleed, eventually becoming a second to third-degree burn. The most severe cases of skin coming in direct contact with concrete have led to scarring, the need for skin grafts, and even amputations. And the harmful effects of skin coming in direct contact with concrete are only worsened when admixtures are introduced to the concrete mixture.
OSHA reports that concrete workers in the U.S. lose four times as many workdays for skin problems compared to other construction trade workers.
If you or your crew are working with fresh concrete, extreme care should be taken to avoid and treat skin irritation and/or chemical burns. Always wear protective equipment such as waterproof apparel, tall boots, alkali-resistant gloves, long pants, and long sleeves while on site. If skin irritation persists or in the case of a deep burn, seek medical attention immediately.
Exposure to dust from dry concrete mixtures can irritate the respiratory system, leading to various infections and illnesses. In the short term, inhaling concrete dust can irritate the nose and throat making it difficult to breathe. Know that dust from sanding, grinding, cutting, pouring, and mixing concrete can find its way into the air you and your crew breath.
Therefore, OSHA requires employers to provide persons who perform or are in the area of any of the previously mentioned actions with suitable respiratory protective equipment. This equipment can include a P-, N- or R-95 respirator or face mask to minimize inhalation of cement-related air pollution on site.
Often a concrete construction site requires large, heavy-duty pieces of construction equipment and vehicles to operate within a tight work zone–a disaster waiting to happen. When vehicles and other types of mobile equipment are operated improperly by untrained workers, the risk of injuries or even fatalities in the work zone is possible. It should be known that working on a highly active site is serious. This is not the place for anyone to cut corners or cheat on safety. Encourage your workers to remain highly vigilant and always pay attention. This will keep vehicle accidents to a minimum.
According to OSHA, you can further prevent concrete construction site accidents by:
Allowing only workers who are extensively trained to operate equipment. (If a trained worker is not available, bring in an experienced outside professional for concrete pours and other specialty work.)
Wear high-visibility safety apparel.
Using temporary traffic barriers throughout the workspace to notify drivers of clearances, speed limits, duration and type of operations, volume of traffic, etc.
Planning and setting up the work area in a way that allows for any possible type of maneuvers.
When it comes to any concrete vehicle-related operations, be sure they are conducted under the direct supervision of a competent supervisor.
When using concrete formworks, blow-outs are a very scary but oh-so-real possibility. The term “blow-out” refers to a break in the form. Form blow-out is due to the pressure from liquid concrete during the concrete placement and consolidation. A blow-out can result in catastrophic effects not only on the structure itself, but injuring workers who may have been working on the structure.
OSHA states that formwork shall be designed, fabricated, erected, supported, braced and maintained so that it will be capable of supporting without failure all vertical and lateral loads that may reasonably be anticipated to be applied to the formwork.