Dermatitis, Skin Diseases and Skin Sensitizers

May 5, 2015 Dave Weber No Comments



Many industries have employees who are regularly exposed to coolants or other chemicals.  Sometimes, workers develop a serious case of dermatitis (inflammation of the skin) from long term exposure to industrial chemicals.

Two companies that I know of had good success in reducing cases of hand/arm dermatitis caused by machine coolants by using the following controls:

  • Enclose machines to contain the coolant within the machine and keep it from spraying all over
  • Contact your coolant supplier and switch to a “safer coolant” that is easier on the hands
  • Replace coolant in each machine at least every six months
  • Clean and filter the coolant as recommended by the supplier
  • Wear nitrile protective gloves whenever there’s any exposure to coolants
  • At the first sign of dermatitis,  start using a protectent barrier cream such as SBS 44 The barrier cream is like liquid gloves.  Affected employees should put it on at the start of their shift, and reapply it after each rest break.  Gloves should still be worn on top of the barrier cream
  • Wear long sleeved shirts to reduce the chance of getting coolant on forearms
  • Wash hands and arms thoroughly at the start of each break and before lunch
  • Before going home after a work shift,  shower at the plant and change clothes


The above controls may also be helpful in preventing work related skin disorders caused by chemicals other than industrial coolants.   Here are some references on preventing work related skin disorders that you might want to review for additional exposure control ideas:


For even more information on chemical safety and toxicology, check out our toxicology webpage!


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