Wet cement is a work hazard that can cause serious harm when in direct contact with skin. This is due a chemical compound called calcium hydroxide that can be found in cement. Calcium hydroxide contains a pH of 12 – 13. Therefore, when human skin, which has a pH of 5.5, comes in direct contact with calcium hydroxide the skin begins to burn. The burning sensation does not occur instantaneously but it will be felt and seen overtime. Additionally, cement burns only gets worst with time thus, by the time the burn gets noticed it can be challenging to stop the reaction from worsening.
Cement burns first appear as a dark bruise-like color, sometimes red and inflamed and can progress to blisters, ulcerations and may even lead to amputations (less common).
Should you or someone else come into direct contact with wet cement, the following procedures should be taken:
- Cautiously remove clothing that have made contact with wet cement
- Run clean water over contaminated area for at least 20 minutes
- If eyes have made contact with the wet cement rinse with clean water as well for 20 minutes
- Seek medical attention immediately
Proper training of wet concrete is a key factor in preventing cement burns at work and or at home. Create a safe work environment by following proper procedures and wearing the appropriate equipment.