How to reduce occupational skin disorders
According to the Health and Safety Executive, skin problems in the workplace have declined over the past few years. However, data suggests that there are as many as 7,000 new cases of occupational skin disorders reported every year.
For businesses, there’s a huge duty to reduce occupational skin disorders and keep workers protected with hand protection, particularly disposable gloves. However, when your workplace involves handling chemicals, working on contaminated surfaces, or even something as innocuous as frequent hand washing, it can be hard to know where to start.
Crucially, finding the right protection to reduce occupational skin disorders begins with understanding the specific risks your people face.
Identifying your workplace risks
First, you need to highlight the major risk factors in your workplace that may lead to skin damage. Typically, these will fall into seven key categories:
- Immersing hands into chemicals
- Direct handling of contaminated workpieces
- Contact with contaminated surfaces
- Splashing caused when liquid or powder is mixed or handled
- Harmful deposits in the air
- Wet work that requires frequent hand washing
- Contact with materials that cause irritation, which could be global irritants or come with a high risk of allergy
As you look around your workplace, you may identify obvious hazards. However, one of the most effective ways to understand and prioritise the risks is through close communication with your employees. After all, they understand their day-to-day practices better than anyone and can offer an insight that you may have missed. Equally, they need to clearly understand the different gloves needed for different tasks. Wearing the wrong hand protection compromises protection.
Understand workplace legislation
Once you understand your risks, you should also consider the legal requirements that affect your response to occupational skin disorders. The Health and Safety Executive offers detailed guidance for businesses around protecting skin in the workplace. This covers everything from toxic, corrosive, and irritant substances to biological agents and dust. As a legal minimum depending on the nature of your workplace, you will be required to:
- Assess risks
- Identify measures for controlling them
- Put those measures into practice
- Ensure the long-term use of those measures
You may also face specific regulations around the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002, or COSHH. As you begin to look for gloves that can help you mitigate your workplace risks, it goes without saying that you should check whether they comply with the latest legislation.
Finding the right disposable gloves for protection
Beyond compliance with legislation and suitability to protect against your workplace hazards, any gloves that you select have another important role to fulfill. They need to give wearers everything they need to stay productive and perform at their best.
It’s tempting to concentrate on protection above everything else, but gloves that are uncomfortable, offer insufficient grip, or get in the way of dexterity won’t give you the long-term protection you need. After all, when wearer acceptance is low, those gloves are unlikely to be used regularly and appropriately by your staff.
Again, the Health and Safety Executive offers outstanding guidance on finding the right gloves, from the symbols and standards you should look for to considering the way gloves are used day-to-day.
We’re always available to hear about your experience with disposable gloves and help you find the right one/s for your workplace. We’ve been reducing occupational skin disorders for more than 20 years – if you need any more assistance, get in touch. You can also view our new range of STALSEN disposable gloves. Ask for a sample.