Every day, outdoor workers are exposed to ever-changing environments for long periods of time, which can have a major impact on the condition of their skin.
Alarmingly, more than 1 in 10 workers suffers from dermatitis – sore and inflamed skin on the hands, which can make routine manual tasks a challenge. When left untreated, it can have a detrimental effect on workers’ wellbeing, leading to sick leave and the inability to perform work duties.
Compared to personal protective equipment (PPE) the use of creams and implementing a skin care regime can be seen as a low priority.
However, healthy skin and good skin care compliance are both fundamental to the health, safety and wellbeing of the UK’s outdoor workforce. Therefore, it is vital that employers recognise the importance of implementing a skin care solution for workers.
Adopting good skin care practice
The 3-Moments of Skin Care, the universal standard for skin care best practice, heralds a breakthrough in the fight against Occupational Skin Disorders (OSD's).
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, skin protection creams should be applied. These are specially formulated to provide a layer to protect the cell wall.
During 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 restorative cream.
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 restore creams helps keep the skin in a healthy condition. When the skin is more prone to becoming dry and sore, it is even more important to replenish the skin’s moisture levels.
Products should be accessible and easy-to-use, which will make outdoor workers more inclined to use the right protective and restorative creams. Health and safety managers also need to make sure that skin health remains an ongoing conversation with workers. Skin care best practice isn’t just a one-time conversation or event, but an all year round focus just like PPE.
 Luckhaupt et. Al; American Journal of Industrial Medicine 56:623-634 (2013)
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