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Maintaining healthy hands on the job

Tuesday, September 24, 2013 - 10:30
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Keeping automobiles in top working condition means technicians come in contact with a variety of skin irritants on a daily basis. Hard-working hands are routinely exposed to harsh chemicals and mechanical irritants, as well as extreme environmental conditions that come with the job. It’s exposure to these elements that can result in occupational skin disease.

It’s estimated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that more than 13 million U.S. workers are potentially exposed to chemicals and other irritants that absorb through the skin. These agents can cause a variety of occupational skin diseases, including contact dermatitis and system toxicity.

Contact dermatitis is skin inflammation that results from exposure to irritants or allergens. The condition can vary from slight reddening and itching to irritating rashes and weeping sores. The disease costs employers billions of dollars each year. It often requires ongoing medical care that alone costs more than $1.4 billion, as well as another $500 million in productivity losses, according to a 2005 study by the Lewin Group for The Society for Investigative Dermatology and The Academy of Dermatology Association.

The National Occupational Research Agenda reported that once workers acquire contact dermatitis, it is estimated that 75 percent of the cases become chronic, requiring ongoing medical care and affecting workers’ well-being.

So it’s important for vehicle technicians to take proper care of their skin by reducing exposure to common irritants, using products designed to clean and condition tough-soiled hands and following a healthy skin washing and skin care regimen. With these key steps in place, technicians will have healthier more comfortable hands, which leads to a better quality of life and improved on-the-job productivity.

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