There are several hazardous materials that you might come in contact with while working on a construction site. Some of these materials are things that are obviously labeled such as solvents, but many hazardous substances are dusts and fumes that are inhaled. Some of these materials could cause instant harm, while others cause damage after being exposed to the material over long periods of time. Knowing what substances are potentially hazardous will help you take the appropriate safety measure to prevent being harmed by them.
There are many forms of dust that could be harmful if inhaled. Most dust comes from other materials that are being sanded or cut. The best way to prevent harm from dust is to control as you work. You should sweep often, wear dust masks, and don’t work in enclosed spaces. These are some types of dust that you might encounter on a construction site:
Wood dust comes from the sanding or cutting of wood. Inhaling the dust damages your lungs. Wood that has been treated with chemicals could cause additional damage.
Silica dust is created from sandstone and concrete. This is the most dangerous type of dust that a construction worker could come in contact with. The reason is because the dust particles are made of tiny crystals that will get lodged into your lungs. Exposure causes asthma, silicosis, and lung cancer. OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Regulation) suggests that workers exposed to silica dust should be provided with extra respiratory protection.
Lower Toxicity Dust
This dust comes from cutting into drywall or marble. It will damage lungs and airways after frequent exposure.
Another airborne toxin that construction workers could be exposed to is mold. Breathing in mold causes asthma, triggers allergies, and other respiratory problems. If you are going to be working on a site that has a lot of mold, wear gloves, allergen masks, and goggles.
Solvents are hazardous to many areas of your body. They could damage your skin as well as contain harmful fumes that could damage your respiratory and/or central nervous system. Solvents used on construction sites include paints, adhesives, and cleaning fluids. Exposure could cause irregular heartbeats, cancer, blindness, kidney and liver damage, or even death. Solvents could cause damage over time or instantly. Symptoms of damage from instant exposure include stomach pain, headache, dizziness, nausea, loss of coordination, cracked or bleeding skin, and eye, nose, or throat irritation. Use respiratory protection if you are going to be using solvents and wash any exposed skin immediately after use in case any got on you.
There isn’t a way to avoid coming into contact with hazardous materials while working on a construction site. Those materials are what is used to make the site safe upon completion. Taking the proper safety precautions will help keep you safe on the site and prevent any lasting damage that could be caused.