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The ultimate workplace hand-care system guide

Man washing hands against blue background

A complete guide to selecting, installing and maintaining a fool proof skin care system in the workplace.

Often our workplaces can expose us to scenarios that are especially damaging for our skin. From over washing our hands, to coming into contact with harmful irritants.

On top of this, in the workplace we are often in close quarters with a large number of people which increases our chances of coming into contact with dangerous bacteria.

Good hand hygiene then is probably the single best and simplest way to stop the spread of illness at work.

The good news is that a proper hand hygiene system isn’t that hard to put in place and can effectively mitigate workplace risks of skin disorders and the spread of illnesses.

Skin disorders and their causes

Occupational skin diseases are caused by being brought into contact with hazardous substances.

The skin can come into contact with these substances any number of ways; having the right skin-care systems in place will help avoid long term damage and reduce short term risks for workers.

To select the right products for your staff you need to understand what they are most at risk of. 

The 7 most common workplace skin disorders

Contact Dermatitis – Eczema

There are two types of contact dermatitis: irritant dermatitis and allergic dermatitis. These have the same appearance but different causes.

Dermatitis can be painful and makes the skin more vulnerable to other hazards such as bacteria.

Irritant dermatitis

As the name suggests irritant dermatitis is when the skin comes in contact with an irritant. This is usually a chemical agent of some sort.

The general rule is that the longer the hazardous substance is in contact with the skin the worse the case gets.

An important classification of irritant dermatitis is that the condition stops after contact with the irritant stops.

Allergic dermatitis

This is caused by exposure to an allergen or sensitiser, again often a hazardous substance.

It is not uncommon then for irritant dermatitis to lead to allergic dermatitis.

The cause is the sufferers immune system being sensitised to the hazardous material as opposed to the chemical agent itself.

Once sensitised, the problem is often a lifelong one and any further contact or exposure will have the same reaction.

Causes of dermatitis: cleaning products; organic solvents; metalworking fluids; cement; some plants and shrubs; and water.

The last item on that list may surprise you. But a very common cause of irritant dermatitis is over washing of our hands.

This can cause irritation which makes people in the food, hairdressing and hospitality industries highly susceptible to irritant dermatitis.

Contact Urticaria

The swellings of contact urticaria appear where the hazardous substance has come into contact with the skin and normally occur within an hour of exposure and disappear after 24 hours.

A common example of this is Latex, which affects many hospital workers.

Acne

Acne is caused by blockage of glands in the skin which then become inflamed.

There are many causes for this, not least of which are genetic. However, it can be caused or worsened by exposure to certain substances. 

Folliculitis

Folliculitis is an inflammation of the hair follicles. This condition is common in people in the metal industry who are exposed to mineral and soluble oils.

Skin Cancers

Skin cancer can be caused by ultraviolet light (either sunlight or artificial), ionising radiation, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, tar and tar products.

Jobs that require a lot of labour outside in the sun, or people working with radiation are the most susceptible to this.

Implementing an effective skincare programme in the workplace

#1 Skin Care Education

The first step is to make sure everyone understands the risks they are exposed to through their particular jobs and educate them in the best ways to counter these risks.

You can provide all the materials and products in the world, but if no one uses them, what’s the point?

Education of staff requires an effort from management to make sure that everyone is explicitly told the importance of their skincare and hygiene, given appropriate learning materials and shown where and how to use the products supplied (when necessary).

Whenever you make changes or introduce new creams, hand and body washes, lotions, sanitisers or restorative products, ensure that these are discussed and the purpose of each product is well understood.

This will help get the maximum effect from them and also help reduce wastage.

#2 Accessibility

The second step to having an efficient skincare programme in the workplace is making sure that the products are clearly and easily accessible.

As simple as this suggestion seems, often, after the initial phase of introducing a skincare programme the new supplies aren’t put out and they drift off to the back of everyone’s mind – forgotten.

#3 Reputable Sources

You will want to get appropriate, reliable sources for supply. These should offer you high quality (industry specific, if necessary) products to protect your workers from everything from harsh weather conditions to chemical spills.

In hot weather, hand cleanser is essential to prevent the spread of germs, bacteria and infections.

In winter, specialist creams or oil-extracted cleansers containing moisturizers are more effective for protecting exposed skin from dryness, or softening skin under gloves and irritation.

It is important for the health and well-being of your staff to find good, trustworthy suppliers of known brands.

Workplace skincare products are a simple and easy way to prevent most occupational skin disorders.

In the short term, it helps decrease irritation which will improve your employees productivity.

In the long run it will help reduce many common work-related health illnesses which will save the business significant amounts of money over time.

#4 Adjust for your specific industry and seasons

Different seasons affect the skin differently. Plus different weather can have varying effects on the spread of germs, bacteria and infections.

For example, in hot weather germs and bacteria thrive and it is vitally important to have good easily accessible hand cleanser.

This will help stop the spread of illnesses and infections thus reducing the spread of sickness in the office.

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 that 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.

#5 Review and Adapt

Skincare programmes require ongoing effort and patience from management.

Make sure to review and get feedback from staff ongoing to ensure that what you have put in place is working for everyone.

Consider changing products which are ineffective or that aren’t working for everyone.

Conclusion

Implementing a successful skincare regime to prevent workplace skin disorders and diseases isn’t rocket science but it does require a bit of effort from both staff and management.

Talk to industry professionals like your suppliers for advice on what industry specific skincare products you will need and to get advice on the proper skincare regime for your workers.

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.

One2Clean – The complete hand cleaning system

One 2 Clean is a hand cleaning system designed specifically for the workplace to help them become more hygienic, but also to help look after the handy health of your staff.

Benefits of One2Clean

* Automatic Dispenser 

Designed with an automatic dispenser this will cut down soap wastage saving an estimated 85% on consumption.

* Optimum Hygiene 

The automatic dispensers also mean that the whole system is touch free, meaning there’s no need to cover the soap dispenser in those germs we are trying so hard to avoid.

* Large Capacity Cartridges

This means that the dispensers will run out less often, meaning less frequent changes, and you are less likely to have a scenario where everyone simply stops washing their hands because the soap is gone.