Checks and precautions you can take to prevent damage to skin

Common hazards to skin

As an employer, you have a duty of care to protect your employees and yourself from workplace hazards. Employees also have a responsibility to protect themselves and others.

If not managed correctly, skin irritation problems can have a considerable​ impact on employees and organisations.

Employees are at risk if they are in contact with substances that are:

  • corrosive
  • irritating
  • harmful
  • sensitising
  • toxic or very toxic

These can cause skin problems at the site of skin contact, for example arms or legs. They can also transfer from hands to other parts of the body, including eyes or mouth.

Working conditions that can lead to skin problems include:

  • very hot or cold water temperatures
  • not using hand washing products or barrier creams
  • excessive hand washing or not drying them fully
  • wet work – where hands are wet or in water for prolonged periods of time
  • exposure to the sun or ultraviolet rays without effective application of adequate sunscreen

Skin problems can also occur through exposure to:

  • deposits such as dust
  • emissions, for example fumes
  • splashes when pouring or mixing liquids
  • contamination of surfaces or materials, for example clothing or work equipment

Carry out a risk assessment

If hazards to skin cannot be avoided, the best way to find out about the risks in your organisation, and how to address these, is by discussing issues with staff and carrying out a risk assessment.

​Find out more

You can share the video below with your employees to help raise awareness and encourage discussion on the subject.​​