Skin Assessments

Skin Assessments

Where it is not reasonably practicable to prevent skin exposure to chemicals, the employer must consider and apply, as appropriate for the circumstances of the work, the ‘principles of good control practice’. To achieve adequate control of skin exposure this includes all of the following:

  • design and operate processes and activities to minimise emission, release and spread of substances hazardous to health

  • take account of all relevant routes of exposure (skin, ingestion and inhalation) when developing control measures

  • control exposure by measures that are proportionate to the health risk

  • choose the most effective and reliable control options, taking into account ergonomics and ease of use

  • provide suitable PPE where adequate control cannot be achieved by other means

  • check and review of all control measures for their continued effectiveness

  • inform or train employees on the hazards, risks and use of controls measures

  • ensure control measures introduced do not increase overall risks to health and safety

As part of the risk assessment employers should also find out whether health surveillance is required. Health surveillance is for the protection of individuals, to identify as early as possible any indications of disease or adverse changes related to exposure, so that steps can be taken to treat their condition and to advise them about the future. It may also provide early warning of lapses in control and indicate the need for a reassessment of the risk.

Substances that may cause skin damage and dermatitis:

  • Epoxy resins

  • Latex

  • Rubber chemicals

  • Soaps and cleaners

  • Metalworking fluids

  • Cement

  • Wet work

  • Enzymes

  • Wood

  • Corrosive/irritating chemicals

  • Solvents

  • Oils

Medical surveillance using an HSE appointed doctor may be necessary if workers are involved in the manufacture of pitch or potassium or sodium chromate or dichromate. Occupations such as construction work, rubber making, printing, paint spraying, agriculture, horticulture, electroplating, cleaning, catering hairdressing, floristry and health service work are all associated with occupational acquired skin problems.

Higher level health surveillance should include the following measures:

Assessing workers’ skin condition before or as soon as possible after they start a relevant job to provide a baseline.
Regular visual skin inspections. The frequency of the inspections will depend on the nature of the risk, but a regular annual skin questionnaire is recommended and a follow up skin inspection if problems are identified on the questionnaire. Referral for specialist medical opinion may be required. For further details on our skin surveillance programmes please contact our team by email at or call us on 01748 824942

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