The lack of attention on hand hygiene regimens in manufacturing plants can have a significant negative impact on employee health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest that 13 million U.S. workers are routinely exposed to chemicals and irritants that absorb through the skin and which can cause diseases like contact dermatitis.
Whether their work is on factory floors, automotive shops or in outdoor environments, employees encounter tough soils and skin irritants. Dirt, grit, irritants and harsh chemicals combine with heat, cold and other environmental factors to create the perfect storm for occupational skin diseases.
The consequences of these diseases are not only bad for people, but costly for business. Companies pay more than $1.4 billion for ongoing medical care related to contact dermatitis, and another $500 million in productivity losses. The irritating redness or painful sores that result from poor hand hygiene also have a significant, negative impact on employee morale and productivity.
The National Occupational Research Agenda reported that once workers acquire contact dermatitis, an estimated 75 percent of the cases become chronic, requiring ongoing medical care and affecting workers’ well-being. It is important, therefore, to reduce exposure to common irritants, use products designed to clean and condition tough-soiled hands and following a healthy skin washing and skin care regimen.
So how can companies take action to minimize the risk of skin problems among workers?
The first step is to begin with an awareness of the hazards that affect hands and health of employees, including:
- Chemical Irritants — Metalworking fluids, lubricants, oils, greases, solvents, paints, fiberglass, acids and even poorly formulated hand cleansers that include surfactants.
- Mechanical Abrasion — Machining, milling, sanding, and grinding generate metal chips that are rough on the fingertips and tend to abrade the skin, causing irritation.
- Physical Agents — Repeated exposure to heat, cold, water and friction.
- Biological and Microbiological Agents — Transmission by hand of germs that may cause illness.
Next, a skin health needs analysis can be conducted. A thorough analysis would include an assessment conducted with the help of human resources or safety supervisors to personally inspect each restroom and soap-and-skin station. After assessing the products and equipment used at each location, the analysis personnel can provide personalized solutions to maximize employee skin health and productivity, as well as information on occupational skin diseases, a risk recap, a needs analysis summary, product comparisons and a situations need report.
GOJO offers a comprehensive Skin Health Needs Analysis for manufacturing operations employing more than 250 people. This service was developed to help improve facilities’ hand hygiene regimens and better manage costs. Manufacturing facilities can take advantage of the skin health needs analysis to not only protect employee health, but also maximize efficiency and profitability.
For information about the GOJO Plant Health Needs Analysis or to schedule an audit, contact Latia Robbins at 1-800-321-9647 ext. 6424.