Many people are unsure what to do when ready mix concrete causes an alkali burn. It’s vital that you know how to prevent it and what action you should take if you come into contact with ready mix concrete.
When ordering a concrete pump, a proper risk assessment should be made by the site management regarding the operation of the pump and the protection of the personnel involved in laying the ready mix concrete.
What causes a concrete burn
Dry concrete on its own is relatively harmless, wet concrete however, can pose a threat to your skin. When concrete reacts chemically with water, calcium oxide becomes calcium hydroxide, a highly alkaline substance with a pH of 12-13. This is very different to the skin’s natural, slightly acidic pH balance of around 5.5. It is the alkalinity of ready mix concrete which causes concrete burns.
Initially, you may not feel any effects of the concrete burn, as the reaction happens slowly. However, if not dealt with quickly, the chemicals can cause skin irritation, pain, blistering and burns.
How to prevent concrete burns
Training your staff on how to deal with and avoid concrete burns caused by ready mix concrete is the best preventative. As well as the siting of the concrete pump, measures should be taken by the site management to ensure that safety regulations are maintained throughout the concrete installation process.
It's also important to provide all the necessary equipment, including pH neutral soap, clean running water, towels and topical sprays. These items should always be available for easy access on-site.
How to treat a concrete burn
It is always recommended that you seek medical attention if you receive a concrete burn from handling ready mix concrete, but in the meantime, prompt action should be taken to help minimise the severity of the concrete burn. If left untreated, skin can start to dry and crack, burns will blister and eventually turn into scarring.
Any ready mix concrete that comes into contact with the skin should be washed off instantly. Clothing which has become wet through to the skin as a result of contact with the ready mix concrete should also be removed immediately and the skin beneath washed thoroughly. New, dry clothing will then be required before recommencing work.
For more information about concrete burns caused by ready mix concrete or to view our Health and Safety guidance in regards to the use of a concrete pump, contact our team on 0117 958 2090.