Exposing the skin to hazardous chemicals is a serious problem on many worksites. Nearly all chemicals are easily absorbed by the skin. This adds to the dose absorbed by breathing, leading to all manner of adverse health effects. Even worse, in most cases, the worker does not even know that he is absorbing chemicals through his skin. Yet, often skin is a more common route of exposure than the lungs.
Thankfully, dermal exposure can be controlled, and even prevented. By changing the chemicals being used on the worksite, exposure can often be eliminated. If this is not a viable option, there is all manner of personal protective equipment that can be worn to prevent exposure. Follow these tips to minimize the risk:
- Switch to a less toxic substance wherever possible
- Investigate redesigning the work process so as to eliminate splashing or immersion
- Select and enforce the wearing of personal protective equipment such as protective gloves, an apron, etc.
- Follow good housekeeping practices to avoid the build up of stable, low volatility, dermal toxic contaminants on toxic surfaces
- Choose the right type of gloves based on the type of chemical to be handled, the frequency and duration of chemical contact and the temperature of the chemical