Precast Plant Safety Assessment – Why It’s Important

Precast plants deal with a unique set of risks. Specifically, precast concrete is highly caustic, making it a dangerous material for workers to use at the risk of skin burns and falling or crushing damage. 

Because of the scale and risks associated with precast concrete, hazards are especially severe in precast plants. As such, your precast safety assessment is a vital first step in ensuring the health of your employees.

You, of course, don’t want to risk your employee’s health, and they’re more than likely not willing to suffer severe damages for precast concrete. Entirely removing any risk involved with working at a precast plant is not always feasible – risk is inherent in the job. However, with a proper precast plant safety assessment, risk can be accounted for and appropriate safety measures may be implemented.

These steps will help to achieve the ultimate goal of all safety departments: zero injuries.

The Safety Assessment

Remember, workplace safety happens on purpose, not by accident. One of those purposeful acts is the safety assessment – a vital component in ensuring your workers and managers are protected in the precast plant.

Safety managers will evaluate the potential risks involved in every function of your precast plant. They evaluate these risks to prevent injuries, illnesses, and even property loss. As mentioned before, precast concrete is highly caustic, which a safety manager will disclose within their safety assessment. 

A thorough safety assessment will highlight areas of exposure and help to create an action plan for improvements. The three main areas of exposure – which should be addressed in the assessment – include:

  1. People – The behaviors and attitudes of employees. This can also include individual competencies, capacities and perceptions.
  2. Plant – The physical conditions of the facilities. This includes tools, equipment, buildings and general housekeeping.
  3. Processes – The systems and infrastructure currently in place. This includes policies, procedures, rules, regulations, training, HR systems and more.

Prevention as a Process

Once all of the risks associated with your precast plant have been identified, proper safety procedures will be recommended to implement within each process of the plant. These processes, when followed correctly, will mitigate the risks at hand.

To help solidify the importance of a precast plant safety assessment, here are two examples of the most common risks within most precast concrete plants:

1. CEMENT DUST*

a. Hazard: Exposure to cement dust can irritate eyes, nose, throat and the upper respiratory system. Skin contact may result in moderate irritation to thickening/cracking of skin to severe skin damage from chemical burns. Silica exposure can lead to lung injuries including silicosis and lung cancer.

b. Solutions:

  1. Rinse eyes with water if they come into contact with cement dust and consult a physician.
  2. Use soap and water to wash off dust to avoid skin damage.
  3. Wear a P-, N- or R-95 respirator to minimize inhalation of cement dust.
  4. Eat and drink only in dust-free areas to avoid ingesting cement dust.

2. WET CONCRETE*

a. Hazard: Exposure to wet concrete can result in skin irritation or even first-, second- or third-degree chemical burns. Compounds such as hexavalent chromium may also be harmful.

b. Solutions:

  1. Wear alkali-resistant gloves, coveralls with long sleeves and full-length pants, waterproof boots, and eye protection.
  2. Wash contaminated skin areas with cold, running water as soon as possible.
  3. Rinse eyes splashed with wet concrete with water for at least 15 minutes and then go to the hospital for further treatment.

These two examples are only the tip of the iceberg; please do not hesitate to reach out to us by phone at 630.759.9908 or by email at Info@Optimum-USA.com for more information regarding safety programs within your precast plant.

*These examples are provided for illustrative purposes only and are not considered directive advice for use in a corporate safety & health manual or safety plan. All safety procedures should be built specific to the company’s operations.

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