Construction work can be a dangerous occupation. Construction workers face the risk of a wide range of job accidents, including falls, burns, blunt-force trauma, electrocution, cave-ins, and even drownings. Many construction accidents are caused by obvious risks, such as great heights, heavy machinery, or dangerous tools. However, less obvious risks — even something as innocuous as concrete — can nonetheless cause severe injuries under the right circumstances and may qualify the injured worker for workers’ compensation benefits. At our Long Island law firm, we have attorneys who handle cement burn and concrete burn clams in injured construction workers.
What’s so Dangerous About Cement?
Cement — specifically wet cement — can cause chemical burns when it comes into contact with exposed skin. This is because cement contains calcium oxide, which is a caustic, alkaline compound that can reach a pH of 12-14 when mixed with water. Substances with a pH as high as 14 (the highest alkalinity point on the pH scale) can cause burns to the skin after prolonged exposure because they eat away at the epidermis. While cement can cause more severe injuries when it is wet, dry cement powder can also cause injuries to the eyes or the lungs if it is inhaled.
What Kinds of Injuries Can Cement Burn or Concrete Burn Cause?
Cement burns occur slowly compared to other burns. Because cement does not cause pain immediately when it comes into contact with the skin, most construction workers do not realize that they have been exposed to it right away. Over time, however, the cement dries and begins eating into the subcutaneous layers of the skin and even to the bone. By the time a worker realizes what has happened, a severe injury could have already occurred. Some of the injuries cement burns can cause include:
- Redness, itching, and dryness
- Skin discoloration
One of the most significant hazards of cement burns can occur when it seeps into an article of the worker’s clothing, especially into their boots or gloves. Not only does this prevent visual discovery, but it often allows the cement to remain in place for many hours before the worker removes the article. In some severe cases, cement burns can even result in gangrene, a serious condition that can result in amputation of the extremities,
How to Prevent Cement Burn at a Construction Site
Construction workers and anyone working with cement can take several steps to protect themselves from cement burns.
- Avoid wearing watches and jewelry while working with cement.
- Wear appropriate protective gear such as long sleeves and pants, gloves, boots, etc.
- Wash your hands both before and after working.
- Remove clothing spattered in concrete and wash the area immediately, washing your hands after handling it.
- Store protective clothing away from ordinary clothing.
If you have already been exposed to concrete, brush off any dried bits and wash the area with cold water for 20 minutes. Do not use lotions, gels, or creams to treat the burn, as those substances can seal cement to the skin.
Contact a Long Island Cement Burn Injury Lawyer Today
If you have suffered a concrete burn on the job that has kept you out of work, you may be eligible to file a workers’ compensation claim. For more information, please contact a Long Island work injury lawyer at Turley, Redmond & Rosasco by using our online form or calling 631-582-3700.