NIOSH Releases Skin Hazard Profiles on 9 Chemicals

Washington, DC – NIOSH has published nine new skin notation profiles to “alert workers and employers to the health risks of skin exposures to chemicals in the workplace.”

Each profile provides supplemental information to the skin notation – in particular, specific hazards to skin from a certain chemical – including a summary of the relevant data used to help determine these hazards.

The new profiles are:

In the foreword to each profile, NIOSH Director John Howard notes that it is intended to “inform the audience – mostly occupational health practitioners, researchers, policy- and decision-makers, employers, and workers in potentially hazardous workplaces – so that improved risk-management practices may be developed to better protect workers from the risks of skin contact with the chemicals of interest.”

If you are facing the issue of dealing with hazardous substances in the workplace, follow the steps outlined here and you will be sure of making a measured and effective response to the problem at hand.

Elimination or substitution
Firstly, you should always try to work out if exposure to a skin hazard can be eliminated completely by altering the process used. If not, then maybe the dangerous substance can be substituted for something which is less harmful? If the answer is still no, then you should consider the next step which is engineering controls.

Engineering controls
Engineering controls help to prevent an employee from coming into contact with skin hazards. These include spray booths, automated handling equipment, and tools with longer handles which increase the distance of the vulnerable area from the hazard.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
If it is still not possible to control exposure to a safer level, then PPE should be used. Gloves and protective coveralls are examples of PPE used to control exposure to skin hazards. PPE can also be used as an interim measure while other long-term controls are being put in place.