Construction work involves equipment and materials that present a variety of risks. In order to prevent illness and injury, it is important for workers to be able to recognize the signs of potential danger.
You should first know the visual signs that something is wrong. Airborne dust or vapor in the air may be an exposure issue. Be mindful that some dangerous gases cannot be seen. Dust from chemicals that has settled on surfaces could also become airborne again.
Also note any unusual odors or tastes. If you smell or taste a chemical, you are inhaling it. Some chemicals can be inhaled at levels that are not harmful, depending on its odor threshold. If you work in construction, educate yourself on the chemicals you are working with and the odor threshold of each. Never purposefully taste a potentially hazardous chemical. If some accidentally gets in your mouth, report to your supervisor immediately.
When working at the construction site, wear appropriate gear to protect your ears - extremely loud noises can permanently damage hearing. These noises can come from hand tools, power tools and other equipment and blasting.
Finally, pay attention to your body and the way you feel. If you are having trouble breathing or have something in your airway that doesn't go away, it could be a sign that you have inhaled chemicals. When chemicals are breathed in, they can enter other parts of the body through the blood stream, which can cause nausea, dizziness, fatigue or headaches. Don't ignore these feelings; visit a doctor to look into the symptoms.
Knowledge of the materials and equipment you are working with at a construction site, as well as recognizing the signs of trouble, you will help to minimize your risk of injury or illness on the job. If you are a supervisor and wish to learn more about construction safety practices, check out our inventory of educational products HERE.