Table of Contents
Common Injuries Associated With Masonry Work
Masons are more susceptible to workplace illnesses and injuries compared to the overall national average. This is also true for the construction industry as a whole. Certain scenarios and conditions are more likely to result in an on-the-job injury or sickness.
The most prevalent type of injury associated with masonry work is musculoskeletal injury. These are caused by lifting heavy loads of bricks and other construction materials. Laying bricks demands bending, twisting, and squatting. A typical mason lays 1,000 bricks each day, which can cause substantial strain from repetitive motion.
In the construction industry, falls are the leading cause of fatalities. This is also true in regard to masonry work. The chaotic nature of construction sites presents many trip-and-fall hazards. Scaffold or ladder falls are very risky and can result in catastrophic injuries.
Falls on a concrete or masonry building site can occur in many ways, especially when working at heights. Falls account for more than 30% of all fatal construction accidents. Therefore, you must safeguard yourself by employing fall protection. This could include fall arrest systems or engineering controls such as guardrails.
Crushing or Impacts
An impact injury or being crushed by equipment or other big things on the job site is a serious risk for masons. A ramp or crate with masonry on a conveyor or other heavy equipment poses the potential of a fatal accident.
Falling Construction Material
Masons generally work alongside or beneath other construction workers. This increases the risk of getting struck by a falling object. A tool may be dropped, building materials may fall from a balcony, or any other object used above a mason may fall on them and inflict serious harm.
Common Illness, Disease, & Disability
Silica is a mineral that is abundant in the Earth’s crust. Respiratory crystalline silica, on the other hand, can cause fatal diseases such as silicosis.
Silica is widely found in the construction sector in sand, stone, concrete, brick, and mortar. Silica dust is created by cutting, grinding, drilling, or crushing any of these materials. Minor silica dust exposure will not kill you, but can still result in silicosis, even below permissible limits; it just will take longer for it to develop.
In reality, OSHA establishes a permissible exposure limit (PEL) for how much silica dust a worker can be exposed to. PELs are legal restrictions that you and your company must adhere to in order to be safe. Over an 8-hour work period, the PEL for silica dust is 50/m3. You are deemed to be over-exposed to silica dust if you surpass the PEL.
Your company should take steps to reduce silica dust hazards well before any employees are exposed to it. The action level is the amount of exposure that an employee can withstand before taking precautionary measures. Silica dust has an action level of 25 g/m3.
If you are exposed to silica dust over an extended period of time, you may develop silicosis. This incurable condition can cause individuals to experience shortness of breath, exhaustion, chest pain, and respiratory failure at its most severe.
Other severe conditions that can result from silica dust exposure include lung cancer, kidney disease, bronchitis, emphysema, and TB. Fortunately, there are measures to reduce the danger of silica dust overexposure.
Wet Portland Cement
Portland cement is used in a variety of construction materials such as:
Every year, thousands of workers use these building materials as part of their profession. Unfortunately, because wet cement is caustic, abrasive, and absorbs moisture, workers risk developing severe skin problems.
Cement burns do not usually induce instant pain. Therefore, you should not wait until you feel the pain to determine whether you have a cement burn. If you wait until you experience discomfort, your skin has most likely already suffered significant damage. In fact, the burn might worsen even after your skin is no longer in contact with the wet cement.
Blisters, dead or hard skin, or black or green skin can all result from cement burns. Burns can reach the bone and create scars or impairment if you are overly exposed to wet portland cement. Exposure to wet portland cement can also cause dermatitis, which is an inflammation of the skin. Dermatitis can cause itching, redness, swelling, blisters, scaling, and other odd skin disorders. If you get a cement burn, you should consult a doctor right away.
How Can Masons Be Protected From Musculoskeletal Injuries & Accidents?
Improved Work Techniques
Determine the best strategy to execute a task while keeping your risk factors in mind. For example, to avoid harming yourself, make use of helpful equipment such as dollies, carts, forklifts, and platforms.
Proper Stretching & Breaks
Taking breaks not only gives you a break from the bending and strains, but also allows you some time to stretch out your sore muscles.
Personal Protective Equipment
Personal protective equipment (PPE) is particularly designed to limit the chance of injury. Wearing shoulder and knee pads, as well as vibration-reducing gloves, can make a significant impact when spending long hours on a job site. In a subsequent part, we’ll go over this in further detail.
Better Tools & Resources
It is critical to ensure that the equipment you are using is appropriate for the job at hand and minimizes the applied force. Using the incorrect tool can result in significant discomfort and long-term adverse effects. It’s also critical to figure out how to improve the building materials used.
Personal Protective Equipment
PPE is the last line of defense when it comes to controlling hazards. However, that does not mean it is any less important. It is vital that you, as an employee, always wear the proper PPE in order to keep you safe while on the job.
When you are exposed to impact, penetration, electrical shock, or burn hazards, you must wear a hard hat. This may include any area where something could fall on your head, you could knock your head on a permanent object, or you could come into contact with electrical lines. In other words, you could justify wearing a hard hat for most jobs.
Eye & Face Protection
According to OSHA, safety glasses or face shields should be worn whenever work operations cause foreign items to get in the eye. Some of these operations include cutting, sandblasting, grinding, chipping, and wire-brushing concrete or masonry. These work activities generate flying debris or particles that, if not shielded, can harm your eyes and face.
Personal respirators are essential for worker protection. Remember that masonry and concrete cutting, sandblasting, and grinding generates silica dust. Wear respiratory protection whenever you may be exposed to hazardous dust. Your employer is responsible for providing the proper sort of respirator for the work you will be performing.
Does Being An Experienced Mason Eliminate Risks?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), new employees are five times more likely to be injured on the job than their more experienced counterparts. 40% of all injuries occur among employees who have been on the job for less than a year, and one in every eight injuries occur on an employee’s first day.
However, this does not necessarily mean that experienced masons are safe from on-the-job hazards. While you may believe that being experienced at a job makes you less vulnerable to hazards than an inexperienced worker, you may be mistaken.
Although many young or new workers are more likely to have an incident due to a lack of experience, training, or awareness of task dangers, experienced workers are not immune. In truth, employees in senior or long-term jobs are frequently at risk of incidents. This is because of complacency.
Someone who has done the same job or task for a long time is more probable to become complacent to hazards and less likely to identify problems. They may also be more likely to take risks or shortcuts in order to complete a task faster.