Thursday, October 1, 2020

Asphalt Hazards-Toolbox Talks


Thousands of construction workers are exposed to the hazards from asphalt daily.  Asphalt is a petroleum product utilized widely in road paving, roofing, siding, and concrete work.  When hot asphalt is adjusted in a molten state, it generates toxic fumes.

Description of Hazard

The primary danger from hot mix asphalt is thermal burns.  Asphalt fumes may also cause eye, skin, and respiratory tract irritation.  Workers who are exposed to asphalt fumes have reported headaches, rashes, cough, breathing problems, asthma, bronchitis, and skin irritation. 

Safety and Health Requirements

This should include the following: 

First aid for eyes, skin, inhalation, and fumes.


If any hot material is splashed into a worker’s eyes, flush eyes immediately with fresh water and then take the worker to a doctor.


If any hot material gets on your skin, a cool affected area in cold water as soon as possible to stop further damage.  If ice is handy, pack ice on the asphalt adhering to the skin.  Do not try to remove the solidified bitumen material from the skin in any way.  Get to a doctor as soon as possible. 


Move the employee to fresh air right away.  Call a doctor.


To protect against the potential hazards of asphalt fumes, your company can treat it as if it were on the list of gases, vapours, fumes, dust, and mists included in OSHA 29 CFR 1926.55.  

OSHA does not have a specific standard for asphalt fumes, so follow the listing of safe work practices below.  

  • Implement Administrative/engineering controls whenever feasible. New paving equipment manufactured after July 1, 1997, will incorporate ventilation systems to reduce asphalt fumes by 80% under an agreement with equipment manufacturers and OSHA. 
  • When such controls are not feasible to achieve the desired results, personal protective equipment (PPE) or other protective measures can be used to keep employee exposure to air contaminants within the limits suggested.
  • Always ensure that you are equipped with the proper PPE such as respirators, heavy-duty gloves, splash goggles or effective safety glasses, long pants and sleeves, and boots.


  1. Have you been shown a copy of your company’s Emergency Action Plan about asphalt hazards?
  2. Do all asphalt workers on your job site wear proper personal protective clothing?  What is the proper PPE?
  3. What should you do if hot asphalt fumes become intolerable on your job site?
  4. How important is it to obtain professional medical care in case of any injury due to asphalt hazards?  Why?

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