Prevention has been recognized by skin care experts as the crucial step in protecting employees against skin disorders. Occupational contact dermatitis (OCD) makes up over 90 percent of those occupational skin disorders and it often turns into a problem that is chronic and debilitating. Basic skin care procedures can make a significant difference and are extremely effective at preventing OCD and other skin issues.
Here are the three important actions that address skin disease prevention in the workplace:
1. Use of barrier creams
As the name suggests, these creams help provide a protective layer that can shield the skin from harmful irritants and substances. The best of these products can also aid in clean up, won’t feel greasy, won’t interfere with work/tools/machinery/parts and can be used in conjunction with gloves where necessary.
2. Providing gentle cleansing products
Gentle doesn’t have to mean ineffective. With the right ingredients, hand cleansers can actually do an exceptional job of cleaning the hands without unnatural, abrasive ingredients. Solvent and soap-free cleansers that are pH balanced containing natural scrubbing agents provide powerful cleansing that is actually compatible with the skin.
3. Conditioning frequently
Replenishing moisture, elasticity and lipids with an effective cream is a key aspect of preventing skin issues. The right skin conditioning cream is silicone-free and absorbs quickly and completely without leaving a greasy feeling.
Dry, cracked, red or flaky skin that often hurts or itches is NOT “just a part of the job” in any industry or job function. Occupational skin diseases carry high costs of treatment and missed work along with poor morale, decreased productivity, and more. Addressing skin disease prevention as a key aspect of health and safety makes a significant difference for employers and employees.
While OSHA does not have specific standards solely dedicated to skin care, the General Duty Clause (Section 5(a)(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act requires employers to provide a safe and healthy workplace by identifying and addressing recognized hazards. That clause alone should spur employees and employers alike to consider and advocate for reducing skin care hazards from harsh cleansers and to provide skin care products that help prevent occupation skin disease.