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Protecting Workers from Skin Hazards

Written by: Rob Hallsworth

Published on: 10 April 2019

Dermal or skin hazards can be managed by providing gloves, protective clothing and easy access to safety showers

Information on Skin Hazards

WHMIS 2015 contains 8 Hazard Statements which indicate the potential to cause skin damage:

What the Regulations Say

In Ontario the specific regulations for your organization will identify what you need to do to protect employees’ skin. The Industrial Regulations (Reg. 851) state –

84. A worker exposed to the hazard of injury from contact of the worker’s skin with,

(a)          a noxious gas, liquid, fume or dust; ….

shall be protected by,

(e)          wearing apparel sufficient to protect the worker from injury; or

(f)           a shield, screen or similar barrier,

125. Where a worker is exposed to a potential hazard of injury to the skin due to contact with a substance, a quick-acting deluge shower shall be provided.

A Summary of Different Materials

Material Comments
Nitrile Good for protection against a broad range
of chemicals.
Poor for ketones (ie acetone), aromatics
(ie benzene) and chlorinated solvents
(ie dichloromethane).
Neoprene Good for hydraulic fluids, gasoline, alcohols,
organic acids (ie acetic acid) and alkalis
(ie sodium hydroxide).
Poor for organic solvents (ie toluene).
Polyvinyl Chloride
(PVC or Vinyl)
Some protection against petroleum based
Poor for most organic solvents.
Polyvinyl Alcohol
Good for aromatic and chlorinated solvents.
Poor for water-based solutions.
Butyl Rubber Good for highly corrosive acids (ie sulfuric acid),
alkalis, alcohols, aldehydes (ie formaldehyde),
ketones, esters (ie ethyl ethanoate).
Poor for gasoline, aliphatic (ie pentane),
aromatics, & chlorinated solvents.
Latex Good for medical & bio-hazards.
Poor for chemicals. Can trigger Latex allergies.

Workplace Specific Instructions

In addition to providing workers information on the type of glove to wear, you can provide additional information to help them easily identify the glove (i.e. colour), when to replace disposable gloves or how to safely remove them. Here are some examples:

  • Nitrile - Blue
  • Nitrile - change after 30 minutes of immersion contact
  • Nitrile - remove by pulling the cuff over the fingers and turning the glove inside out

You could also provide information on skin protection or guarding beyond the use of gloves such as these examples:

  • Long Sleeves
  • Tyvek Suit
  • Neoprene Apron
  • Close lid before starting equipment

Remember that most SDS’s do not provided specific information on dermal protection. Talk to your PPE supplier to develop a cost effective program for your workplace. Please feel free to contact us if you have more questions surrounding skin hazards and how to protect yourself and your employees!

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SDS RiskAssist an Ontario-based company that uses the power of technology to give employers control and understanding over the otherwise pervasive and worrisome use of chemicals. SDS RiskAssist enables workers to know why chemicals are being used, what their benefits and hazards are and how to use them safely! Workers can access this knowledge via mobile or desktop SafetySnaps™, from anywhere in the world. SDS RiskAssist is the winner for 5 years running, of Readers’ Choice Awards by Canadian Occupational Safety Magazine (2018-2022); the 2019 Innovation Guelph Startup of the Year Award; the 2019 Quinte Business Achievement Award (Trailblazer category) and The Ottawa Network’s 2020 Bootstrap Award (SaaS category). We support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, working with our clients to take action for a sustainable planet.