What safety equipment (PPE - Personal Protection Equipment) should be worn when handling concrete?

It is important to wear adequate PPE when handling concrete as it is alkaline in nature and can result in irritation and burns.  In addition, it is important to wear the correct PPE when working in and around a work zone.  The following are suggested PPE items that should be worn:

  • Waterproof Gloves - protect your skin from irritation
  • Dust mask - prevent inhaliation of dust
  • Safety Glasses - protect your eyes from dust
  • Long pants and sleeves - protect your skin from irritation.  It is important to keep your clothes dry, as saturated clothing can allow the concrete to be transmitted onto your skin.
  • Safety boots - this assists in preventing injuries to your feet when handling heavy items, moving around a work site or using hazardous tools.  If you require to stand in fresh concrete while it is being floated or screeded, to prevent injuries to your feet when handling heavy items or using potentially hazardous tools.

You should also wash your hands with soap and clean water to minimise the risk of skin irritation.

 

What is the difference between concrete and cement?

Cement is a fine powder that is made of ground materials and is an ingredient used in making concrete.  When the cement is mixed with water it becomes a binding agent (like a glue) that holds the concrete together.  Concrete alone, is made up of aggregate (stones) and sand.  When water is added, it results in a chemical reaction which the cement element of the concrete mixture.  This allows the concrete to set and harden in place.

 

What does MPa refer too?

A megapascal (MPa) is the metric unit for pressure or stress.  It is used in the concrete industry as a unit of compressive strength.  This unit is important when you have a project that requires a particular strength level.

Sometimes you may see concrete written as "N30/10" or are asked by your concreter to organise N20/10 concrete.  This is one example where a particular mixture has been requested.  The N refers to 'Normal' class of concrete, where the 30 refers to 30MPa of strength and 10 is the maximum aggregate size that will be in the mix.