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New drive to promote skin safety at work

27 July 2016

This year Mid Ulster District Council are keen to help raise awareness about skin safety in the workplace.

The Council is teaming up with all NI Councils in conjunction with the Health and Safety Executive NI (HSENI) to outline key messages on the important issues around skin safety.

It is vital that workers are given information, training and equipment to protect skin from the damage of workplace hazards such as chemicals and the sun.

Staff from the Council will be visiting businesses to raise awareness and ensure practices are in place to reduce the chances of employees suffering painful and sometimes debilitating skin conditions.

Calling for businesses to get behind the initiative, Councillor Clement Cuthbertson Chair of Mid Ulster District Council’s Environment Committee, said:

“When health and safety inspectors visit your workplace they will expect safe skin to be considered in your business risk assessment.  And, if work-related skin safety is a potential issue they will expect to see effective arrangements in place to reduce risks to workers.”

Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun is a common risk for outdoor workers. Sunburn can blister skin and make it peel. Long-term it can also speed up the ageing of skin, making it leathery, mottled and wrinkled. Of course, the most serious effect of too much sun is an increased chance of developing skin cancer.

Work-related dermatitis, also known as eczema, accounts for a significant proportion of work-related ill health. It can be caused by exposure to chemical agents or wet work, where hands are repeatedly wet for long periods during the working day. Biological agents such as plants and bacteria, physical agents such as vibration and radiation, and mechanical agents such as abrasion can also cause work-related dermatitis.

Speaking about the new safety drive HSENI’s deputy chief executive Louis Burns said:

‘Most work related skin damage is preventable by adopting simple steps to manage risks in the workplace.  Proper skin care is an important part of health and safety at work and businesses need to ensure potentially harmful exposures are managed.  For businesses this can mean fewer absence days and a healthier workplace.’

Two new information leaflets have been developed to support the initiative. They provide advice for employers and employees who may be at risk from work-related skin problems.

To find out more, or to view the information leaflets, visit www.midulstercouncil.org/safeskin or phone 03000 132 132 and speak to any member of the health and safety team. 

You can also find information on the HSENI website: www.hseni.gov.uk/safeskin

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