How to Identify Risks Linked to and Reduce Occupational Skin Disorders
Updated: May 4
Skins disorders can be a bit of a worry for some businesses. If you're working in a place that deals with handling and transporting hazardous substances, working inside machinery or on other contaminated surfaces then it can be difficult to fully protect all of a persons skin all of the time.
Especially when that person is in such frequent contact with chemicals, even when cleaning your hands you're using a substance (or substances) that could cause your skin to dry out which may lead to dermatitis; A very common affliction among nurses, who, for obvious reasons, need to clean their hands regularly.
The Health and Safety Executive say that the annual number of reports for occupational skin disorders has dropped over the past several years, however, they also recognise that there still several thousand cases reported annually.
As a business owner there are certain requirements that are placed upon you in regards to occupational skin disorders and keeping your workers safe from them.
What are the requirements?
Every business, under the Health and Safety Act and COSHH regulations, is required to do their utmost to protect the skin of their workers.
To do this, and adhere to the law, the business must take the time to:
assess any and all risks that may be preset in the workplace,
go over the assessment, identify the correct control measures and implement them,
regularly check and maintain the control measures to ensure they remain adequate and undamaged.
As an employer, it's also important to inform your employees that they are also have some responsibility when it comes to their safety and that of their workmates.
What is the right protection?
The correct personal protective equipment is something that will primarily be determined by the risk assessment and any safety data sheets that were used to identify the control measures.
However, also consider speaking with your employees about how they think their jobs could be made safer and how they feel wearing the PPE provided to them.
With all of their day-to-day, hands on experience they are the most qualified to tell you about specific problems they find when they're working. Often-times these details can be use to further ensure the safety of others, either through improved control measures or safer work processes.
For example, a worker wearing a set of gloves or a jacket that protects them, but is uncomfortable, hinders movement or in the case of gloves, has insufficient grip, then there is another risk involved and the protection becomes a hazard.
If your employees are not happy wearing the equipment you provide for legitimate reasons then it's likely that people will begin to 'forget' to wear it. If those gloves are causing me to drop something due to insufficient grip, then why would I wear them?
If you would like to learn how to identify the risks that may cause occupational skin disorders in your workplace, you can take the new COSHH Risk Assessor Certification™.