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Tune Up Your Skin Care Knowledge

Patrick Boshell
June 30, 2015




According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), auto service technicians and mechanics are significantly more likely than the average worker to be injured or killed on the job. Nearly 45 percent of these injuries and illnesses are due to contact with objects and equipment, such as parts, materials, tools and vehicles themselves. Though contact injuries may be the most prevalent, they are not the only type of occupational hazards that automotive workers face. Other illnesses and injuries include overexertion, falls, strains, sprains and exposure to harmful chemicals.


One common occupational hazard that is oftentimes overlooked in the automotive industry is the incidence of skin disease. A study from the Occupational Medicine Journal found that 41 percent of car mechanics said that dry skin on their hands was often a problem and 46 percent reported the occurrence of hand eczema. Additionally, an even more severe skin disease known as contact dermatitis is of particular concern for those workers in an industrial and automotive setting. The Canadian Centre for Occupation Health and Safety (CCOHS) states that occupational contact dermatitis is “an inflammation caused by substances found in the workplace that come into direct contact with the skin.” Symptoms can include redness, blisters and swelling of the skin. Contact dermatitis may spread to other parts of the body if left untreated, and workers can even develop chronic skin disease.


Learn more about Deb automotive hand cleaners


In an automotive setting, these contact substances can include oil, grease, paint, brake fluids, detergents, adhesives, degreasing agents and even some ingredients found in hand cleansers themselves like pumice and solvents. CCOHS reports that skin disease, like contact dermatitis, accounts for approximately 35 percent of all cases of occupational illness, and in Ontario alone, 1,000 compensation claims are reported for contact dermatitis annually. Additionally, according to the Center for Economic Vitality at Western Washington University, 77 percent of shops offer medical coverage but only 33 percent of shops offer paid sick days. This can have an incredible effect on a shop’s efficiency and bottom line as well as the workers’ well-being.


While many autoworkers think skin irritation is an unavoidable part of their job, new products provide significant prevention and relief from this painful and often costly problem. How can workers protect themselves from developing dangerous skin disease in the shop? As a leader in workplace skin care, Deb has put together a few skin care best practices.


  • Not every hand cleaning job requires a heavy-duty cleanser. It is best to use the gentlest cleanser for the particular condition.
  • For the tougher jobs, choose hand-cleansing products with natural scrubbers, like cornmeal or walnut shell scrubbers. They will be better on hands and won’t clog the drains.
  • Many cleansers in industrial and automotive settings contain dangerous ingredients like solvents or pumice that can remove the skin’s natural oils. Instead, try a low-solvent or solvent-free hand cleanser.
  • Workers in an automotive setting primarily work with their hands and generally cannot use obstructive personal protective equipment (PPE), like gloves. However, if and when workers do use PPE, they should be used in accordance with the instructions.
  • Protective prework creams can be used under gloves or without gloves to help prevent skin irritation, maintain healthy skin and can make skin cleansing easier.  
  • After cleansing hands, the skin can lose important oils and moisture. An after-work conditioning cream should be used to balance and replenish the moisture in the skin.
  • Not only can hands get soiled, but rags and clothing can, as well. Workers should frequently change soiled clothes and keep dirty rags out of pockets to keep hands from getting re-soiled.
  • The location of cleansing products in the shop can make a huge difference in compliance. Many times, bottles and tubes of product can get misplaced, so the installation of wall-mounted product dispensers is highly encouraged.
  • If skin problems occur, they should be reported and cared for right away to prevent further damage.


Just as auto mechanics take care of and repair automobiles, the mechanics and their managers must learn to take care of their skin. To become and stay a top performing shop, managers need a healthy and productive workforce. With quality products and proper skin care knowledge, the occurrence of skin disease in the automotive industry can be significantly reduced, protecting workers and saving time and money.


Learn more about Deb automotive hand cleaners


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