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2014FallShotcreteEMag

Safety Shooter Awareness of Cement Burns By Joe Hutter Mportland cement mixtures, yet despite the is therefore important so steps can be taken toof the problem and the severity can be greater thanit should be. Early identification of cement burnsost experienced concrete professionals arefamiliar with the hazards associated with precautionary steps most of those professionals treat the affected area. follow, hospital emergency rooms, year after year, Cement burns can often start with minor see far too many cases of cement burns. discoloration of the skin but it is important not Cement in its dry state is not particularly to assume that the severity of the burn will not harmful to skin. When mixed with water, however, get worse. Affected skin can gradually change calcium hydroxide, formed during the cement to a deep purple-blue color, which can eventu- hydration process, is extremely alkaline with a ally progress to painful burns, severe blistering, pH between 12 and 13. In comparison, human and ulcerations. In some cases, cement burns skin has a pH of only 5.5. Prolonged exposure, or can also lead to allergic dermatitis, which usu- in some cases even limited exposure, to the cor- ally means an unexpected career change for rosive effect of cement paste can result in severe shotcrete nozzlemen or other crew members damage to unprotected skin (Fig. 1). who work with fresh concrete. Determining the cause of those burns is rela- tively easy. However, because the pain that Preventing Cement Burns accompanies cement burns can sometimes be The prevention of cement burns, like most delayed for hours, the victim may not be aware workplace hazards, starts with education and training on the safe handling of wet concrete. Frontline supervisors should emphasize to shot- crete crew members the cause of cement burns and ensure that all crew members take the proper safety precautions to avoid injury. Employers should always do their part to pro- vide shotcrete crew members with a safe working environment, including access to the supplies necessary to treat skin that has been exposed to wet concrete. These supplies include sufficient clean, running water; a pH-neutral soap to help neutralize the effect of caustic cement (workplace cleaners that are caustic and abrasive or contain sensitizers such as lanolin, limonene, or perfume and irritants such as alcohol should be prohibited); and clean towels. Protective clothing and personal protective equipment (PPE) will also play a critical role in the prevention of cement burns. Clothing should be the type that minimizes contact of the cement with the skin. Care should be taken to ensure that shotcrete rebound and fresh concrete cannot enter areas of friction such as sleeve cuffs and neck collars (Fig. 2). The initial layer of clothing should Fig. 1: Prolonged exposure or, in some cases, be kept clean and dry. If clothing does get satu- even limited exposure, to the corrosive effect of rated with cement paste, it should be removed and cement paste can result in severe damage to changed. A checklist of recommended clothing unprotected skin and PPE should include: 54 Shotcrete • Fall 2014


2014FallShotcreteEMag
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