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Skin Injuries Ahlsell

Skin injuries

The skin is our largest organ; in an adult, it is about two square meters in size. Maybe that’s why we sometimes neglect to protect it, which ultimately reduces the skin’s natural protective effect and increases damage. You can prevent skin damage by making sure you minimise your skin exposure to harmful substances, for example by using the right personal protective equipment.

Active protection against skin injuries

The following tips are a good foundation for protecting against skin injuries:

Avoid or replace
The best way to avoid skin injuries is to avoid or replace corrosive, irritating, and allergenic substances.

Use the right equipment
If it is not possible to replace a substance that damages the skin, you can reduce exposure by choosing better technical solutions and working methods. Newer equipment will at best reduce the risk of exposure.

Plan and act
Regardless of the measures that employers and employees agree on, it is important to plan the work well. If changes are made to the work, the employer must perform a new risk assessment.

What are the risks of skin injuries?

Many chemicals can affect the surface of the skin, while others can penetrate further into the skin, entering the body and damaging internal organs. Skin injuries can occur both immediately and after a long period of time. Damage that is not immediately visible can be difficult to link to exposure, which means that the right measures are not put in place in time.

Hand eczema is the most common work-related skin disease. Women are affected significantly more often than men. Hand eczema is most common in young women.

Most cases of work-related skin problems include skin irritation and allergic reactions, which account for up to 95% of cases, followed by skin cancer.

How to protect yourself against skin damage

There are a number of external factors that cause skin damage. Here’s how you can protect yourself:

Cold – Warm clothes and gloves, hats, preferably the layering principle.

Heat – Clothing and gloves that protect against heat, the layering principle also works here; remember not to use materials that can melt.

Moisture – Use gloves, disposable coveralls, boots, inner gloves, disposable gloves, aprons; apply lotion frequently.

Chemicals – Get help if necessary to ensure you are using the right materials to protect against the substance. Correct disposable coveralls, boots, hoods, gloves.

Abrasion – Gloves, workwear, knee pads, work shoes, insoles; apply lotion.

Sunlight – Full-body workwear and head protection, tent/parasol.

Dust – Disposable coveralls, gloves, face shield, extraction, good ventilation, cleaning

Allergy – Remove allergenic substances such as nickel, chromium, latex. Use the right protection.

Apply lotion. Check for rash and irritation; use unscented soap and detergent. Use a moisturizing cleaning agent.

Professional roles and industries that are most at risk of work-related skin injuries

  • vehicle servicing
  • construction industry
  • electronics industry
  • fish processing industry
  • glass and concrete work
  • rubber and plastic goods work
  • chemical process work
  • agricultural and greenhouse environments
  • food industry
  • pharmaceutical industry
  • painting and floor coating work
  • steel, metalworks and foundry work
  • workshop and construction metal work
  • electrical and telecom installer
  • vehicle and machine operator
  • milling machine operator
  • warehouse worker
  • masonry worker
  • painter
  • carpenter
  • lathe operator

What does the law say? What is the employer’s responsibility?

The employer must investigate and assess risks in operations

  • The employer is obliged to conduct a risk assessment of the operations in the workplace. The risk assessment looks at the risks involved in the work and the measures needed to mitigate the risks. The results of the risk assessment must be documented and made available to the personnel and the work environment inspectors.
  • The employer must provide the employee with the personal protective equipment identified as necessary in the risk assessment.
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE) is equipment that is used by an individual and that is worn or held for protection.
  • The employer can also investigate how the work is organized and reduce the risks involved. For example, it may be necessary to take measures such as limiting the amount of time the worker is exposed to the risk, implementing closed processes to reduce exposure, or job rotation.

Black and white – Safety Data Sheet

A safety data sheet from the supplier must be available for each product that is hazardous to health found at the workplace.

The safety data sheet contains information about

  • the risks associated with the chemical
  • which protective measures are required
  • which hazardous substances are contained in the chemical
  • the hazardous properties of the chemical

Read more about the content of the safety data sheet on the website of the Swedish Work Environment Authority.

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You can find more information on the website of the Swedish Chemicals Agency www.kemi.se.

Other risk areas

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