11 Mar Working with Cement and Protecting Yourself from Injury
The Importance of Personal Protective Equipment
Almost all Arizona cement companies put up signs about what you need to wear when working with cement or close by to a cement installation. Silicosis is a respiratory disease that is commonly found in those that work in the cement industry.
Nearly 10 percent of all cement workers get this disease, a serious job injury in the long run. Once those silica particles get into your lungs, nodules form around the minute crystalline silica particles, becoming larger over time. Breathing becomes more difficult over time until the person realizes that breathing is not what it used to be.
If you work in an area where cement is being mixed and laid, wear a mask. Why? The wind can change unexpectedly and then those silica particles are blowing your way. You will breathe those particles into your lungs without realizing it even if you are not directly working with cement.
Visit your doctor every year and request a measurement of what your breathing shows in terms of the volume of air in the lungs you take in. More commonly known as total lung capacity (TLC), if your measurements are going down at a greater than what your age indicates is normal, then you may need to act. Your doctor will help with the best recommendation.
No Treatment Available to Workers
If you are working with any substance that produces dust (cement, stone cutting, mining), always use a mask as it is impossible to remove the residue from the lungs. You have it in your lungs for the rest of your life. This, alone, should scare you into wearing a mask every time.
Wear safety glasses that provide a rubber seal to fit against your face, so you do not get silica particles into your eyes. Use an eyewash as soon as possible if you think you got silica or cement dust in your eyes.
When you visit your doctor, you may have tests, such as imaging, lung function, sputum, bronchoscopy, and even a surgical lung biopsy, if a diagnosis requires this. Tell your doctor if you have symptoms of a severe cough, shortness of breath and if you have an abnormal amount of sputum or coloration.
Best Tips for Working Safe
- Wear clothing that fully covers your body,
- Use gloves to keep your hands clean and long enough to cover your sleeve cuffs,
- Eat meals in areas away from the working site to avoid getting dust in food and drinks,
- At the close of the work shift, spray the area with water to clear out floating dust particles, and
- Change from your work clothes before leaving for home to avoid bringing dust into the house where others might breathe it.
If you notice changes in your breathing that remain constant, make note of this so you can tell your doctor the next time you go in for a check-up. If your doctor tells you that you can no longer do this job because you have lung disease, file a claim immediately. During the time you are off, consider if you want to take on a different job. You can get help with job training, so you move into another career.
We Help You When You Need It
If you do end up with lung disease, call us first as you prepare your claim. It is important to have the right information for a successful outcome. Arizona Injury Law Group offers experienced and Certified workers’ compensation lawyers and legal services for injured workers. Call for your free consultation! 480-300-7273.