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posted by Todd Jenkins, CHST October 2016

The most effective way to avoid concrete/ chemical burns is prevention. The issue is not being aware of the hazard of concrete burns, specifically when concrete burns are not always obvious until symptoms have already started.

Getting wet concrete on you is not the problem. Letting it stay on you as you work and move is the issue. The coarse sand in concrete is abrasive to bare skin. Basic cement is alkaline in nature, so wet concrete is caustic and other cement mixtures are strongly basic (pH of 12 to 13). Strong bases-like strong acids-are harmful, or caustic to skin. Drying cement is hygroscopic, meaning it absorbs water. In fact, cement products need water to harden. Cement will draw water away from any material it contacts-including your skin. Take the time to prevent prolonged contact with wet concrete, and you will avoid concrete burns.

Wear rubber boots when you stand in the concrete. Your leather work boots will not protect you from the chemicals in the concrete. Leather boots absorb the chemicals, and after just a few hours of working with your boots soaked in these chemicals, you will have a chemical burn. If you get concrete inside your rubber boots, take the time to get it out. You will avoid a serious chemical burn.

Other things to consider is wet concrete can splash and get on your face and eyes. Goggles and a face shield that fits wide rimed hardhat protect you from concrete splashes. Concrete trucks are loud, a good pair of earmuffs can protect your hearing. It is also a good practice to provide a Cement Burn First Aid Kit specifically designed to neutralize concrete burns.

The most effective way to avoid concrete burns is not come in contact with wet concrete, wearing the proper PPE can help prevent contact and concrete burns.

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