Hand Hygiene—Important Do's and Don'ts

November 1, 2013

Dirt, grit, irritants and harsh chemicals combine with heat, cold and other environmental factors to create the perfect storm for occupational skin diseases. A skin inflammation resulting from exposure to irritants or allergens, contact dermatitis can range from a slight reddening and itching to rashes and sores.

Contact dermatitis annually costs employers billions of dollars. Ongoing medical care associated with the disease adds up to more than $1.4 billion, according to a study from The Society for Investigative Dermatology and The Academy of Dermatology Association. The study also showed contact dermatitis costs another $500 million in productivity losses.

The National Occupational Research Agenda reports 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.

Here are tips for proper skin care in manufacturing operations, offered by Gojo Industries, Akron, OH, a manufacturer of skin-care and other hygiene products.

Do’s of Skin Care

• Condition skin often. Before and after work, and after each washing.

• Wash hands regularly.

• Wash with the right kind of cleaner. Use the mildest yet effective cleaner to remove soils.

• Keep tools clean to help keep hands clean.

• Wear PPE, including gloves, whenever possible to protect skin from chemicals and other substances harmful to your skin. If PPE is not available, avoid contact with irritants.

• Change work clothes at least daily, including overalls. Be sure to wash work clothes separately from other laundry so contaminants aren’t spread to other clothing.

• Use chemicals as instructed.

• Observe and report changes in skin condition.

Don’ts of Skin Care

• Never expose unprotected skin to harsh chemicals. 

• Never use harsh detergents, solvents or chemicals such as gasoline, turpentine or benzene to clean your hands. Als use an approved skin-cleansing product.

• Never eat, drink or smoke with dirty hands. Harmful chemicals can enter the body through the mouth and could damage vital organs.

• Don’t use regular bar or lotion soap if your hands are full of grease and grime. A weak soap can cause you to scrub too hard to get your hands clean. Use the appropriate hand cleaner.

• Don’t use abrasives or brushes not designed for your skin. They can cause damage.

• Never wipe your hands on a dirty shop towel. Shop towels can contain metal shavings or other debris that can cut and damage hands.

• Never put dirty, contaminated hands in gloves. The gloves will trap the contaminants against the skin, causing irritation and even permeation.

Gojo Industries: 330/255-6000; www.gojo.com/united-states
Industry-Related Terms: Grit
View Glossary of Metalforming Terms


See also: GOJO Industries, Inc.

Technologies: Safety


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