Safety Focus of the Week: Skin Exposure to Portland Cement Products
Skin exposure to Portland cement products can cause serious injuries. The worst conditions can happen when concrete is trapped against unprotected skin (or even indirectly through clothing) – as can happen when concrete spills into the worker’s boot or gloves. The alkaline compounds in wet Portland cement concrete can cause up to 3rd degree burns and skin ulcers. The condition can be severe enough to take several months to heal, require hospitalization, and require skin grafts. Another concern is that exposed workers often don’t feel discomfort until they become injured.
Workers should also be aware of exposure to dry Portland cement, which can cause irritation and dehydration of the skin. Moisture on a workers skin can hydrate the cement into the more caustic condition.
Some workers experience allergic reactions to Portland cement causing a severe rash. In some cases, workers that have been exposed to Portland cement for many years can suddenly be allergic.