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NAOSH Week Hand Protection: PPE beyond Gloves

Patrick Boshell
May 08, 2018



May 6 kicks off North American Occupational Safety & Health (NAOSH) Week. Launched in 1997, NAOSH Week was marked by an agreement between Canada, the United States and Mexico. The goal during Safety and Health Week is to focus employers, employees, partners and the public on the importance of preventing injury and illness in the workplace, at home, and in the community.


Deb is proud to promote this important movement by drawing attention to skin disorders, a common illness that occurs far more often than any other work-related health issue. In Ontario, Canada, 1,000 compensation claims are reported for contact dermatitis each year[1]. Dermatitis can become a financial burden to the employee, as well as the employer. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 50 percent of all working time lost to industrial illness is due to dermatitis. Just one case of occupational dermatitis costs employers approximately $3,500 in workers' compensation claims and results in an average disability of 23.9 days, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association.


If you making a living using your hands, chances are that you often use personal protective equipment (PPE), such as gloves, to protect your hands from exposures to hazardous chemicals or harmful micro-organisms and cuts, scrapes, etc. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that more than 13 million workers in the U.S. are potentially exposed to chemicals that can be absorbed through the skin.While gloves play an important role in protecting hands, they are often the source of issues effecting skin health and can lead to serious skin disorders like dermatitis. Many workers hands often display redness, irritation or cracks – all symptoms of an occupational skin disease (OSD).


The use of dedicated pre-work cream can help to reduce the negative effects of wearing gloves. By taking the right preventative steps to minimize contact with damaging agents and adopting an appropriate skin safety regimen, the risk of occupational dermatitis can be reduced. It’s not enough to provide workers with protective gloves. Including skin care as a part of your PPE program is essential to maintain healthy skin, reduce the risk of OSDs, and promote the overall health and wellbeing of your employees.


 Using Cream as PPE


The use of protective pre-work cream as PPE can help to reduce the negative effects of wearing gloves. Protect creams provide a protective layer, helping to prevent physical contaminants and micro-organisms from entering the skin. The cream helps to maintain the natural condition of the skin, protect against dermatitis, UV rays and cold working conditions. It also makes the skin easier to clean with less aggressive cleansers.


Restore creams play an important role in restoring the skin barrier. Restore creams improve skin strength by moisturizing, nourishing and conditioning the skin, preventing it from becoming dry or damaged, which can eventually lead to OSD. Studies suggest that the use of conditioning creams post-work, including post-wet-work, is beneficial to skin health. Further, a major study found that using protect (pre-work) and restore (after-work) creams prevented deterioration in skin condition or improved skin condition in 73 percent of workers after one year[2]


Many creams have been developed to be used underneath gloves. When using an under-the-glove cream, it’s important to ensure that the product selected is compatible with the glove material. Some cream components may degrade the glove material and make the glove ineffective.


Hand Protection Covered


Gloves are an important element of PPE. But, when it comes to worker health and well-being, gloves aren’t enough. Even with the use of gloves, the skin can become dry, cracked and unhealthy, which increases the risk of skin disease. Protect creams are specially formulated for specific applications to leave a protective layer on the surface of the skin. Restore creams improve skin strength by moisturizing, nourishing and conditioning the skin.



May 6-12 and throughout the year, you can add protect and restore creams as an additional form of PPE to promote the overall health and safety of your workers, which can also result in significant cost savings related to treating serious skin health issues.




[2] Kutting, et al, 2010

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