Concrete is such an important building material and so commonly used, the dangers of working with it and around it are often overlooked. Concrete and in particular, precast concrete members, can be dangerous when not treated with care and respect. The applicable OSHA standards can be found in 29 CFR part 1926.700 thru 706 and Cal/OSHA CCR Title 8 §1712 thru §1722.
To summarize, these standards are concerned with safe practices associated with construction loads, reinforcing steel, post-tensioning operations, riding concrete buckets (not allowed!), working under loads, personal protective equipment, bulk cement storage, concrete mixers, tools, concrete buggies, concrete pumping, masonry saws, reshoring and formwork. There are separate chapters of safety codes on requirements for precast concrete and for lift-slab operations, jacking equipment and concrete jacking operations.
Requirements for masonry construction include a limited access zone which should be established before construction begins, the width of the limited access zone and that it should be established on the side of the wall which is unscaffolded. The limited access zone should be off limits to all but those employees actually engaged in constructing the wall until such time as the wall is adequately supported to prevent overturning and collapse. For walls over eight feet in height, adequate bracing is necessary unless the wall is adequately supported through its design and/or construction to prevent overturning and collapse.
Let’s not forget a few other hazards associated with the use of concrete. The actual concrete delivery can be hazardous, especially when delivered on rough and uneven terrain. The delivery vehicle is very heavy and awkward when backing up and has heavy components that can suddenly swing round, out of control, if appropriate care isn’t taken. Finally, concrete can dry leaving very hard, sharp edges – be on your guard at all stages of working with concrete!