At the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman, our concrete worker injury attorneys recognize the importance of working with clients from the very beginning. There may be several avenues of financial recovery for those injured while working with concrete, starting with workers' compensation. There may also be grounds to pursue a product liability claim (defective equipment or tool) or a premises liability claim (failure of property owner to use reasonable care in recognizing, mitigating or warning of a hazard).
Concrete is the single most widely used building material on Earth, used to erect homes, commercial buildings, roads, bridges, parking lots, stadiums and so much more. Made from a mix of cement, water, and aggregate (rocks and sand), concrete is strong and durable - and potentially very dangerous for those who work with it. The U.S. Geological Survey estimates 85 million tons of cement are produced each year, with the primary end use being concrete.
Concrete worker injury in Massachusetts can include:
- Lacerations (while using masonry saws and other tools);
- Eye, skin and respiratory tract irritation from cement dust exposure;
- Injuries due to inadequate safety guards on equipment;
- Inadequate lockout/ tagout systems on machines;
- Equipment malfunction;
- Overexertion and awkward postures;
- Crushed/ struck by injuries caused by collapsed or broken concrete;
- Slips trips and falls on wet cement or concrete;
- Hearing injuries due to high decibel of sound in cutting or drilling concrete;
- Chemical burns from wet concrete.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports more than 250,000 people to work just in concrete manufacturing, and about 10 percent of those - or roughly 28,000 workers - experienced some type of job-related injury in a single year. More than 40 of those injuries were fatal.
Technically, MGL Ch. 152 section 41 gives workers a timeline of four years in which to file a workers' compensation claim, with the clock starting on either the date of injury or illness or the time at which they become aware it was work-related. However, we wouldn't advise waiting that long. The sooner you speak with a lawyer, the faster we can launch an investigation, giving us the best chance of collecting enough information to make a strong case for benefits and/ or third-party liability. (Personal injury claims have a statute of limitations of three years, as do claims for wrongful death.)
Our work injury attorneys in Massachusetts are committed to helping you explore every viable claim and fighting vigorously on your behalf to pursue them.Why Working With Concrete is Risky
Tens of thousands of construction workers work with concrete every day and do so without harm. However, the material has the potential to cause injury or illness at nearly every phase of use - mixing, molding, cutting, transporting, laying, erecting and demolishing.
Concrete is most commonly made of Portland cement, a material that creates a paste when mixed with water and binds with sand to harden. It's manufactured through a highly-controlled chemical process. (The ASTM has designated five different kinds of Portland cement, uniquely tailored for their end purpose use. For example, Type I is general purpose Portland cement, used in most buildings, bridges, and roads. Type III is high early strength, used for rapid construction and cold weather concreting. White Portland cement is purely decorative.)
Other materials made with cement include mortar, plaster, grout, stucco, and terrazzo.
OSHA has a host of safety recommendations for concrete workers.
Industry segments include:
Those who manufacture cement will be more prone to injuries like chemical burns and respiratory illnesses. Workers in the construction sector may be more prone to being struck-by or caught-between objects, falls, machine-related injuries and electrocution hazards. Persons in the transportation sector will be more prone to collisions.Cement Dust a Hidden Risk
Cement is a powdered material with particles that can become airborne during bag dumping or concrete cutting, sanding or grinding.
Cement dust exposure can result in irritation to the eyes, nose, throat, lungs, and skin. The range of impact varies depending on the level of exposure. For example, breathed into the lungs on a few occasions, cement dust might cause a cough or upper respiratory infection. Prolonged exposure could result in a diagnosis of silicosis or lung cancer - both often fatal pulmonary diseases.
Airborne cement dust, if it gets into the eyes, can cause anything from minor irritation to a chemical burn to blindness.
In some instances, workers have an allergic reaction to the hexavalent chromium contained in the cement, resulting in extreme irritation or triggering asthma or other respiratory episodes. It's possible to work with cement for many years without episodes and then suddenly have a reaction, according to the Electronic Library of Occupational Safety and Health.
Some researchers have concluded airborne cement exposure can result in damage to the stomach, colon, heart, liver, spleen, bone and more.
OSHA requires workers to limit their airborne exposure to Portland cement to 15 milligrams per cubic meter.Wet Cement
Wet cement can be dangerous because it is abrasive, caustic and drying. Even just brief contact with the skin can cause irritation. However, if wet concrete or mortar gets trapped against the skin (i.e., in a worker's boot or gloves or soaks in through protective barriers, it can result in first, second or third-degree burns. They can also cause painful skin ulcers. In some cases, these injuries are so severe, they take months to heal and may even require skin graft surgeries and hospitalization.
Those most often at risk for this type of injury are concrete finishers, who kneel on fresh concrete, especially if they do so without knee pads. The concrete gets absorbed in through the worker's pants and held against the skin for an extended time. Moisture from wet clothes or sweat can result in a caustic reaction if contact is made with wet clothing or dust.
Aside from concrete finishers, other workers who may be prone to wet cement injuries include:
- Cement Masons
- Hod carriers
- Tile setters
- Terrazzo workers
- Ready-mixed concrete truck drivers
- Bucket and buggy operators
- Those involved in pouring and finishing work
- Proper training, equipment, and supervision are imperative.
Many of the concrete-worker injuries in construction involve general hazards, such as machine failures or being struck by falling or unstable concrete.
Many times, workers are injured by unguarded machinery - specifically mixers, block makers, cubers and metal-working machines such as rebar benders, cutters and cage rollers.
Workers might also be at risk of being hit by falling objects from conveyor belt systems, elevators or concrete block stacking equipment. Falling concrete forms can occur if the formation is incorrectly choked, braced or cribbed.
Many concrete mixers and ready-mix trucks have confined spaces that can pose a serious safety threat to workers, both in terms of silica exposure and heat stress.
Finally, the potential for injuries related to poor ergonomics by concrete workers can't be overlooked. These individuals often work in cramped conditions or awkward positions, which can result in competitive motion injuries or strains.
Contact the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman today for a free and confidential consultation.