Skin at Work
Contact with substances handled at work can give rise to occupational skin disease, also known as dermatitis. Dermatitis means inflammation of the skin; it is also referred to as eczema. When a person has dermatitis the skin can look red and sore, cracked or broken, sometimes even blistered.
Dermatitis can be caused by chemicals which are skin irritants or chemicals known as sensitisers that give rise to allergy. The way the skin looks for both these skin issues is often the same. There are a range of substances and hazards which can be skin irritants or sensitisers:
- Cleaning chemicals
- Laboratory chemicals
- Food ingredients, e.g. vegetables, fruit, seasonings
- Maintenance materials, e.g cement, wood dusts, solder, oils and resins
- Animal and human waste products
- Protective equipment designed to stop contact, e.g. rubber and latex gloves
- Mechanical factors such as skin friction or wet work.
Under the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (as amended), employers need to risk assess all activities which involve such hazards and put in place controls to prevent exposure at such a level where it would cause harm to employees. Employees have a duty to comply with all control mechanisms put in place for their safety, e.g. wearing Personal Protective Equipment, using guarding or ventilation equipment, engaging with health surveillance programmes run by the employer.
The Health and Work Consultancy Skin health surveillance assessment includes:
- Providing skin health surveillance including a skin questionnaire and annual skin inspection
- Confidential data management and reporting, with employee consent Worker education at time of test Permanently retained records (40 years)
- Completed COSHH report for each individual to be kept at your company to demonstrate to regulators that you are compliant with the law
- Training employees to be competent skins assessors, in the interim period of time
- Advising on prevention of problems or how to overcome those that are developed /developing
Further sources of information
- The Health and Safety Executive - Skin at Work information page
- The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health - skin disorders information
- British Safety Industry Federation - employee "its in your hands" information leaflet
- The Health and Safety Executive guidance for employees - Managing skin exposure risks at work
- Occupational Contact Dermatitis and Urticaria - The British Occupational Health Research Foundation (BOHRF) has a guide for employers, workers or their representatives
- Health and Safety Executive - Health Surveillance for occupational dermatitis - G403
If you have any questions about Occupational skin assessments or any other occupational health services for your business in South Wales or the South of England, don't hesitate to call us on 02920 682028 or Contact us.