The Importance of Skin Care in the Workplace

Your skin is your body’s largest organ, yet it’s often the most overlooked when it comes to its care. Taking care of your skin may seem trivial, but according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLA), approximately 50% of all working time lost to industrial illness is due to dermatitis. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that occupational skin disorders, such as dermatitis, are the most common type of workplace illnesses. Including time away from work, reduced productivity, and worker’s compensation claims, the cost of this illness exceeds $1 billion annually.

What is occupational dermatitis?

Occupational dermatitis is defined as an inflammation of the skin caused by working environments or contact with harmful substances. Its symptoms include irritation, redness, and swelling of the skin that may spread if left untreated. Dermatitis can affect most industrial applications, yet is most common is areas such as construction, cleaning, maintenance, and wet work where the skin is exposed to moisture and wet conditions for long periods of time. If dermatitis isn’t treated quickly and effectively, more serious long-term issues may arise, resulting in reduced productivity and lost work time.

How can dermatitis be prevented?

The most effective way to prevent dermatitis is to select and use the proper hand hygiene products. When selecting a hygiene product, avoid those with ingredients such as paraffin, thinners, petrol distillates, and mineral spirit. Stay away from using harsh and dangerous products such as paint thinners, gasoline, or acetone for cleaning skin, as well. They’re more likely to strip skin of its natural oils.

While gloves are effective at keeping contaminants away from the skin, they can also cause or contribute to industrial dermatitis. Moisture produced by sweat glands gets trapped inside the glove. This moisture build-up can cause severe skin irritation, even after the gloves have been removed. Dermatologists recommend using a protective pre-work barrier cream in combination with the gloves. It can also be used on its own if gloves aren’t used.

Using an after-work cream provides an additional layer of protection. This type of cream can replenish your skin’s natural oils that may have been lost throughout the work day. When choosing an after-work cream, look for one that has 15-30% fats or oils.

Taking care of skin is an easy, cost-effective way to reduce lost work time and worker’s compensation claims. If you have questions about which of our skin care products will work best for you and your co-workers, please contact our Customer Service Reps at 800-631-1246, or customerservice@northernsafety.com. They can give you the information you need to choose the products that are best for you and your workplace.

Northern Safety Co., Inc.
PO Box 4250. Utica, NY 13504-4250
Phone: 1-800-571-4646
Fax: 1-800-635-1591

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