As part of our general health surveillance assessments, our Occupational Health Technicians (OHTs) carry out skin checks as standard practice. At the beginning of any health surveillance assessment, we always ask our patients what their occupation is, do they wear gloves, overalls, safety glasses etc and what type of things they are exposed to, for example, coolants, chemicals etc.
During the skin checks, we ask each patient if they are experiencing any problems with the skin on their hands, arms, face or anywhere else on their body. Should the patient be experiencing any problems, we have a look at where the problems are and then ask them questions for example:
“How long have you had the complaint?”
“Any previous episodes of skin irritation?”
“Ever had treatment for the skin irritations?”
Most common complaints are itching, redness, dryness and cracking of the skin. All of which can be sore and continue to get worse if not treated. Most companies do offer barrier creams to their staff. A barrier cream acts a physical barrier between the skin and the contaminants that may irritate the skin.
We see various types of skin complaints, the most common one being Dermatitis. Dermatitis is a skin condition caused by contact with something that irritates the skin or causes an allergic reaction. It usually occurs where the irritant touches the skin, but this is not always the case.
We suggest that if any skin complaint gets worse, that the patient seek medical attention by visiting their GP. If required, we suggest to our client that the patient sees one of our Occupational Health Advisors for a review. The good news is that whilst these complaints are common, they are preventable. The HSE has provided guidelines on simple, cost-effective steps that employers and employees can take.
Use the APC approach: Avoid direct contact with unprotected hands and substances, products and wet work where this is sensible and practical, for instance:
You should look to protect the skin. Avoiding contact will not always be possible so:
Check hands regularly for the first signs of itchy, dry or red skin:
For more information regarding the above, please contact us!
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