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5 steps you must take to prevent work related skin diseases

A worker holding his hands up to show his palms covered in white dust

Work related skin diseases, if left unattended, can cause all sorts of problems, negatively affect the productivity of staff and just be, well, painful.

In any and all cases, the best cure is prevention. This is why installing an effective and cost efficient skincare and disease prevention programme is so vital.

Skincare in the workplace is more than just protecting your hands against winter dryness. It’s also about workplace safety, protecting employees from infections, physical contamination through skin absorption of chemicals, as well as stopping the spread of germs.

In this article we outline 5 simple steps to creating and implementing your own effective workplace skincare programme.

Educate staff of the risks

The very first task that needs to be undertaken is the education of all the staff. Everyone needs to understand not only what the skincare programme is (eg. what creams, lotions and other skin care products are being introduced) but why this preventative programme is being put in place.

You can go ahead and provide all the very best skincare products for your staff, but if no one is going to use them then it’s a waste of money.

Education then, is key. All staff need to be told the importance of their skincare and hygiene and given appropriate learning materials where necessary.

This then needs to be reinforced and upheld by management.

Only use specialist products

The next step is getting the right products. You will want to find appropriate, industry specific products from trustworthy brands.

These products should be extremely high quality and aimed to properly protect your workers from all workplace hazards, whether it’s harsh weather or irritant chemicals.

A specialist can tailor the right type of skincare programme to match your workers’ needs, making all the difference to their health over longer periods.

Make seasonal adjustments

Different seasons bring the threat different work related skin diseases, so your skincare programme has to be able to adapt.

For example, in hot weather germs and bacteria thrive and it is vitally important to have good easily accessible hand cleanser which will help stop the spread of illnesses and infections thus reducing the spread of sickness.

On the other hand, in winter, skin dries out and is weakened by the colder weather.

Initiating a programme more centered on specialist creams or oil-extracts which contain moisturizing chemicals will help protect workers skin from getting dry.

These will also help prevent skin softening under gloves and help reduce irritation.

Of course it’s not all about the weather, and different industries will have different staple skincare products they will need to use year round.

If you work with chemicals or other hazardous products it’s vital that your skincare programme reflects this.

Keep it easy and accessible

It’s vital that you employ a system that makes it easier to clean hands well than to do it badly.

All staff are busy and distracted and, let’s be honest, not all of them are going to be that motivated to maintain good techniques.

Having clear instructions on the wall helps by reinforcing that message. Introducing a hands-free system makes it virtually impossible to clean your hands without doing it properly!

Another point,if it never gets put out, it physically can’t be used.

It seems like an obvious fact; but have you ever worked in an office where no one knows where the cleaning products of hand sanitizer is? I know I have.

In practicality, this might mean anything from assigning tasks to individuals – like making sure bathroom soap dispensers are full to specific individuals, to installing hand sanitizer stations at various points around the office, kitchen, warehouse etc.

Keep reinforcing the message!

The final point brings us almost full circle. All the products in the world will do nothing if nobody uses them.

You can’t always force your staff to wash their hands, but they shouldn’t ever be allowed to forget that it’s their responsibility to use the systems you’ve provided.

So, to ensure staff are doing their best to keep their skin healthy in the workplace and taking full advantage of the resources and products your are supplying, think about setting aside a little time in each of your staff meetings to get feedback for the products stocked and to receive suggestions from staff.

In this way you can help generate conversation around the skincare regime that has been implemented, making sure no one forgets that the products are there or what they are for.

This has an added bonus; their feedback might even lead to better products that are more effective and cost efficient.

Conclusion: Bonus Step

Implementing a good and successful skincare regime is the most effective way to prevent work related skin diseases.

It isn’t rocket science but it does require a bit of effort, not just from management from everyone.

Making sure staff understand the benefit if it to them will help – but this needs to be reinforced by management and by action.

Talk to industry professionals for advice on what industry specific skincare products you will need and to get advice on the proper skincare regime for your workers, such as a complete hand care system.

They will also be able to advice on the best way to implement your skincare programme to get the desired result as well as help you make sure that it’s as cost efficient as possible.

Image by: kendrahw