The law requires employers to adequately control exposure to materials in the workplace that cause ill health. This includes controlling exposure to materials that cause skin diseases and to materials that enter the body through the skin and cause problems elsewhere.
Employers and employees need to comply with the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (as amended) (COSHH). They require employers to:
- assess risks;
- provide adequate control measures and ensure their use and maintenance;
- provide information, instruction and training;
- provide health surveillance in appropriate cases.
The Health and Safety Executive recommends the APC approach as follows to reduce the chances of suffering painful and sometimes debilitating skin conditions.
- AVOID direct contact between unprotected hands and substances, products and wet work where this is sensible and practical, for instance:
- Get rid of the substance/product/wet work altogether.
- Substitute the product/substance for something less harmful.
- Introduce controls (such as tools or equipment) to keep a safe working distance between skin and substances/products/wet work.
- PROTECT the skin. Avoiding contact will not always be possible so:
- Provide suitable personal protective equipment such as gloves.
- Provide mild skin cleaning cream that will do the job and washing facilities with hot and cold water.
- Tell workers to wash their hands before eating and drinking, and before wearing gloves. Suitable cleaning systems exist for mobile workers.
- Remind workers to wash any contamination from their skin promptly.
- Provide soft cotton or disposable paper towels for drying the skin. Tell workers about the importance of thorough drying after washing.
- Protect the skin by moisturising as often as possible and particularly at the end of the day – this replaces the natural oils that help keep the skin’s protective barrier working properly.
- Use suitable pre-work creams.
- CHECK hands regularly for the first signs of itchy, dry or red skin:
- When skin problems are spotted early, they can be treated, which can stop them from getting too bad.
- Seek advice from a medical practitioner if you suspect that you may have skin problems. Further advice is available on skin checks.
Source: Health and Safety Executive www.hse.gov.uk. Reproduced under the terms of the Click-Use Licence
Deb - Skin Care Management System
Leading Skincare Company Deb advise that the risk of work-related skin disease, usually referred to as ‘Occupational Dermatitis’, can be minimised by adopting a simple Skin Care Management System, as follows:
- Conduct assessment of current work practices to identify where contact with potentially harmful substances could occur
- Introduce new processes, working practices or Personal Protective Equipment as required
- Introduce a 3-Step Skin Safety Programme:
- Protective Creams
- Hand Cleaners
- Restoration Creams
- Encourage compliance through training and education
- Monitor and review
3-Step Skin Safety Programme
To keep hands healthy and prevent dermatitis, Deb recommends the implementation of a simple 3-Step Skin Safety Programme:
Step 1: Protect
Pre-work creams help protect the skin against contact with various workplace contaminants and irritants by limiting the contact between the two. They also facilitate subsequent cleansing, allowing the mildest possible cleansers to be used.
Step 2: Cleanse
Appropriate cleansing of the hands plays a vital part in preventing occupational dermatitis. Using the appropriate cleansers so that hands are physically clean will remove dirt and irritants while keeping the skin in a healthy condition.
Step 3: Restore
Maintain skin in healthy condition by applying an after-work cream to replenish any lost natural oils, keeping the skin soft and supple and avoiding dryness. Good skin condition is an important element in ensuring good hand hygiene practice.