3 safety tips for working with concrete

I’m not one for long preambles, but there’s a little but about me before I jump into giving 3 great basic safety tips for working with concrete.

I retired from concrete work about 5 years ago. Know what they don’t tell you before retirement? Not working can become a bit boring. So I picked up a few hobbies. Fishing, golf, beer (not necessarily in that order). Ok, “beer” was a joke, but seriously retirement can leave a guy with a lot of idle time.

So I’m getting a new hobby: talking about the work I used to do… concrete work :)

Homeowners are who I want to help with this blog, so most posts will be “101″ posts about the basics. For example here are a few tips, just basic stuff that a newbie homeowner might want to think about before tacking poured steps, or a concrete retaining wall.

1)  Bags of concrete can be HEAVY!  80 lb is typical, although some might be 40 to 60 lb.  That means you have to actually KNOW how to lift them safely (body mechanics).  The key is o squat, and REALLY lift with your legs while keeping your core engages.  This video explains is well, and they refer to using your bodies ‘power zone’ (power zone = close to your core, so you can lift up with your legs while keeping your torso upright).

2) Always, always, always use rebar safety caps.  Trips and falls happen, and if you land on the end of a vertical stick of rebar you can become a human shish kabob.  So be sure to put an OSHA approved safety cap on any rebar end that sticks up in the air.  This video shows a safety test that illustrates how effective these caps are at protecting your body:

3) Concrete is in essence a chemical potion.  It’s chemistry at work.  Some ingredients, like Portland Cement or Lime, can injure bare skin. Check out this persons injured hands:

So always, always, always wear appropriate gloves to protect your skin.  Latex and Nitrile are both great!

There ya have it, 3 basic tips to help a homeowner with zero experience to begin exploring concrete work.  If you spend some time learning how to work with concrete you’ll be able to tackle a lot of construction projects to improve your home.

3 easy eays to cut rebar (and which is best!)

Your average foundation is made from concrete and rebar. The rebar is inside the concrete and reinforces it so it can support the weight of your home.

The rebar gets cut, bent and tied together to form a cage like structure. There are several ways to cut rebar when prepping for a pour.

First are expensive fancy pneumatic or hydraulic cutters.

They work good, but are dang expensive. Some have better cutting speed than others.

Here’s another method, using a manual rebar cutter.

Those work really well too. Way cheaper, and they can go dang fast. The most common size rebar is #4 bar, and a manual cutter goes through that just fine but it does take some muscle.

Lastly there is the good old chop saw.

These cut bar like butter. It takes almost no muscle to use. The down side is they throw a lot of sparks and make a lot of noise.

I usually use the last two methods. Manual cutter for #5 bar and smaller, chop saw for bigger stuff. I’ve used the hydraulic cutters on a few jobs because they were already there, but I sure wouldn’t go buy one $$$$.…