OSHA Issues Portland Cement Guidance

OSHA recently released Preventing Skin Problems from Working with Portland Cement, a new guidance document created to educate employers and employees about effective ways to prevent skin-related injuries in the cement and cement-related industries.

"Those who work with portland cement are at risk of developing skin problems, and OSHA is committed to providing information that will help employers keep their employees safe from cement-related skin problems," said Edwin G. Foulke Jr., assistant secretary of labor for OSHA.

Portland cement is a generic term used to describe a variety of building materials that have strong adhesive properties when mixed with water. Wet portland cement can damage the skin because it is caustic, abrasive, and absorbs moisture. It also contains trace amounts of hexavalent chromium, a toxin harmful to the skin. Portland cement is an ingredient in concrete, mortar, plaster, grout, stucco, and terrazzo.

The new guidance, available at www.osha.gov/dsg/guidance/cement-guidance.html, addresses ways to prevent or minimize skin problems through the proper selection and use of gloves, boots, and other PPE, and also includes work practices, such as use of pH neutral or slightly acidic soaps, and ways of making cement products less hazardous.

OSHA estimates that there are more than one million employees that work with either portland cement or concrete which contains portland cement. The product is estimated to account for 25 percent or more of all work-related skin problems, while occupational skin disease is estimated to account for 10-15 percent of all work-related diseases.

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