Industrial hand cleaners have steadily evolved since they were first introduced to the market in the 1890s. From powdered hand soap and home-brewed concoctions to the liquid plus abrasive favored today, one alarming detail remains the same. Most are still far too strong for the job. The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that occupational skin disorders such as dermatitis, which are often caused by exposure to harsh chemicals, are the most common types of workplace illnesses with estimated costs (including time away from work, reduced productivity and workers compensation claims) exceeding $1 billion annually. However, by choosing the proper hand cleansing products, occupational skin disease can significantly be reduced.
The industrial workplace has changed dramatically in the past 50 years and it’s time for industrial hand cleansers to do the same. Though we normally don’t promote ourselves on this blog, Deb Group has recently been recognized for our innovative work in battling this significant industry issue and we felt like it was important to share. Deb’s GrittyFOAM®, the first-ever heavy-duty foaming hand cleanser that is both powerful and gentle, received the gold medal in the Hand and Arm Protection category in the Occupational Health and Safety Canada Readers’ Choice Awards. While we are humbled and honored to receive this recognition, we are even more pleased that this award serves as confirmation that industry perceptions on hand and skin safety are beginning to change for the better. Winners were chosen based on a popular vote, confirming the industry’s commitment to making skin care a top priority and demonstrating the fact that users are embracing products like GrittyFOAM that are gentler on the hands and skin, yet still powerful and effective.
Most Hand Cleansing Technology is Stuck in the Past
Unfortunately balancing cleaning power and skin safety has not always been the norm. Many once believed that a cleanser’s performance should be solely measured by its ability to clean hands aggressively. Generally, the strongest cleansers typically have the harshest ingredients, often formulated with heavy and dangerous solvents like petroleum distillates and abrasive scrubbing particles like pumice that may severely irritate and damage the skin. Changes in contemporary manufacturing and industrial environments mean the industry has gotten far less “dirty” over the past several decades, yet thanks to this false belief, most cleansing product formulations have not changed and remain more powerful than they need to be.
So the question remains, why is the industry still using cleansers that are far too strong, when powerful yet gentle products are available and just as effective? One reason could be attributed to industry-wide lack-of awareness, an issue we are hoping to overcome with this blog. However a second and much larger cause for concern is the industry acceptance of the “noisy minority,” those workers who loudly vocalize their preference for strong and powerful hand cleaning products. Many managers blindly give in to these workers’ requests without ever questioning their reasoning. Instead of appeasing this noisy minority, managers should focus on educating them and winning them over with safer and superior products. If powerful hand cleaning products are what they demand, could they actually prefer a less abrasive yet strong hand cleansing alternative like GrittyFOAM, if given the opportunity to try it? The answer is yes! In fact, a recent Industrial Survey performed by the Deb Group found that GrittyFOAM was preferred by 9 out of 10 workers.
“The overall message is that it's time for employers to get serious about skin care in their workplace and not continue using antiquated products that cause more harm than good," said Isabelle Faivre, Vice President of Marketing, North America, Deb Group Ltd. The industrial workplace has changed and safety and facility professionals are slowly changing with it. Being chosen as a gold medal winner in the OHS Canada Readers’ Choice Awards is a huge step in the right direction. Even though the industry still has a long way to go in battling this issue of skin health and safety Deb is proud to be a part of the solution.
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