EHS Alert - Eye exposure to Portland cement
Portland cement (often referred to as OPC, from Ordinary Portland Cement) is the most common type of cement in general use around the world, used as a basic ingredient of concrete, mortar. It usually originates from limestone.
Portland cement powder is corrosive. Eye contact with this can cause irritation, chemical burns and even blindness. The treatment must be immediate and effective to prevent serious eye injuries.
Protecting your eyes from exposure to Portland cement:
Ø Wear tight-fitting goggles, not just safety glasses, when you are handling or exposed to Portland cement.
Ø Tilt your head down to remove your safety goggles. Remove your safety goggles over your head so that any corrosive dust on the top of the goggles falls away from your eyes.
Ø Do not wear contact lenses while handling cement.
Ø Use containers with securely fitting lids when transporting cement powder.
Ø Avoid methods of handling cement powder like sweeping that allows it to become airborne and come in contact with your eyes.
Safe workplace procedures:
Employers must warn their workers about the corrosiveness of Portland cement. They must make sure that their workers review the material safety data sheet (MSDS) on Portland cement and similar corrosive materials. They must also conduct risk assessments for jobs that expose workers to Portland cement and implement the appropriate control measures.
Employers must also have specific written safety procedures for handling Portland cement and similar corrosive materials. The procedures should include the following instructions:
Ø Keep exposure to Portland cement and other corrosive materials to a minimum.
Ø When cleaning up spilled or accumulated Portland cement or other corrosive materials, use a vacuum to eliminate or minimize airborne powder.
Ø Don't allow cement powder to build up so that it poses an increased risk of eye injuries. Conduct regular clean ups.
What to do if your eyes have been exposed to Portland cement
Ø Begin emergency flushing of your eyes immediately and call for first aid. Immediate treatment is important to avoid severe burns to the cornea of the eye.
Ø If you are wearing contacts, try to remove them as soon as possible, but do not delay flushing.
Ø Rinse eyes thoroughly with water for at least 30 minutes including under lids to remove all particles.
What the first aid attendant should know and do:
First aid attendants must follow these steps when treating someone whose eyes have been exposed to Portland cement or similar corrosive materials:
Ø Start eye-flushing right away and continue flushing for 30 minutes by the clock.
Ø Conduct the primary survey to determine if there are any life-threatening injuries while continuing to flush.
Ø If the worker is wearing contact lenses, try to remove them, but do not let this step delay eye- flushing.
Ø Examine the eyes and remove any remaining particles from behind the eyelids with a moist applicator.
Ø Continue to flush until emergency medical services arrive or while on the way to medical aid.