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Protect workers’ skin this winter

05 December 2018

During the winter months, dry and sore skin is an especially common problem for outdoor workers as they are exposed to cold environments for longer periods of time. 

The seriousness of this issue cannot be ignored, and if the risk is not properly managed, it can affect a worker’s effectiveness in the short term – and cause serious harm in the long term.

Paul Jakeway, marketing director at Deb, shares the real threat to workers’ skin and what actions employers need to take to protect outdoor workers’ skin this winter. 

Occupational Skin Disorders – the silent threat 

Occupational Skin Disorders (OSDs) are amongst the most significant health and safety issues facing businesses across the world, affecting 40% of workers at some point in their career.

In the colder months, workers are more likely to suffer from dermatitis – sore and inflamed skin on the hands, which can make routine manual tasks a challenge. 

If this condition is left untreated, it can have major implications for an individual’s social life, home life and working capacity, with employers feeling the implications both in terms of workforce wellbeing, as well as productivity and the bottom line.

Therefore, it is crucial that health and safety managers implement a good skin health routine to prevent OSDs and ensure outdoor workers are protected this winter. 

Implementing the 3-Moments of Skin Care 

The 3-Moments of Skin Care, the universal standard for skin care best practice, heralds a breakthrough in the fight against OSDs. 

These three moments identify when skin care action is required, more importantly highlighting when skin protection or restorative creams should be applied by workers – before starting work, after washing hands (during work) and after finishing work. 

The use of appropriate pre-work and after-work hand creams can have a significant impact on the prevention of OSDs. At each stage, it is important to provide the appropriate protection or treatment for the skin, relevant to the activity being done.

Before work

Before work, skin protection creams should be applied. These are specially formulated to provide a layer to protect the cell wall. 

They can reduce direct contact with specific types of physical contaminants, help retain natural lipids and moisture in the skin, improve comfort and skin strength, and make the skin quicker and easier to clean. Some specialist creams can help prevent exposed skin from getting dry under cold working conditions. 

In work – after washing 

Following contamination or during work breaks, hands should be washed with an appropriate hand cleanser or soap to remove all dirt and harmful contaminants from the skin, and then followed with the application of the correct protection or restore cream, specific to skin type.  

After work 

After work, restorative products should be applied to moisturise, nourish and condition the skin, to improve its strength and prevent it from becoming dry or damaged.

Regular use of restorative creams helps maintain the skin in a healthy condition. In the colder winter months, when the skin loses moisture and is more prone to becoming dry and sore, it is even more important to replenish skin with restorative creams.  

Skin creams should also be placed around the workforce to encourage skin care compliance. For outdoor workers, it is vital that these are clearly visible around the work point including mobile working areas, such as vans and work cabins.

By following the 3-Moments of Skin Care, employers can ensure skin care is front of mind and protect workers this winter.