DIY pain: Chef's new kind of burns

21:05, Aug 12 2014
Richard Till
ON THE MEND: Celebrity Kiwi chef Richard Till talks about his recovery from serious concrete burns suffered during some DIY work laying a concrete slab.

Celebrity chef Richard Till never expected his latest DIY venture to end up in a lengthy hospital stay.

The 55-year-old now wants others to learn from his "reckless" mistake after he suffered serious concrete burns to his legs when laying a shed-floor slab on his new Little Akaloa property.

He required skin grafts on both legs during a 10-day stay in Christchurch Hospital and five weeks off work.

"I have handled a lot of concrete over the years, but I have never ended up in this situation. I have had sore hands from working with it and minor little burns so I didn't for a moment think it would end up like this."

Freshly mixed, wet concrete is extremely alkaline, and prolonged contact with skin can cause chemical burns. The most severe cases result in amputation.

Till, who is now involved with catering and events at The Tannery in Woolston, said he was working on a 30-square metre concrete pad in June when an extra cubic metre of concrete arrived containing more cement than expected.


"It was going off incredibly quickly and just in order to get the whole slab screeded I ended up kneeling in it. I needed to get the job done.

"I knew that I would get burnt but I didn't even for a moment think it would be anything other than reddening of the skin or a week later lose a bit of skin."

Till was burned from his knees to his gumboot line, his skin was painful and turned black. He decided a day and a half later that he needed to see a doctor and was sent to hospital.

He admitted it was "reckless behaviour". But he wanted others to know how serious concrete burns can be.

The Accident Compensation Corporation dealt with almost 100 concrete burn-related claims last year. However, there was not enough information to determine how many cases were burns from concrete on a hot day and how many were from wet cement.

The Press