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Direct skin contact with harmful substances may cause contact eczema. Acids, alkalis, solvents, detergents and cutting oils are some of the substances which often irritate the skin. Chromate, epoxy products, preservatives and nickel can all cause allergies, and some people may even suffer from skin cancer as a result of exposure to these.


How to protect your skin:

  • Avoid using substances which may irritate the skin or cause allergies. If this is technically impossible, select the least irritating substances.
  • Prevent your skin coming into direct contact with harmful substances and with workwear which is contaminated or soaking wet.
  • Avoid soaps and creams with unnecessary additives such as perfume. Select products with full product declarations.
  • Do not clean or wash your hands in any detergents that are stronger than necessary, and avoid keeping them in water for any length of time.
  • Remove watches, rings and other jewellery before you start work.

Skin care

You should apply cream to dry, tired skin. This will make your skin supple until it recovers.

Use a cream containing as few additives as possible, and avoid creams containing disinfectants as these are not necessary at general places of work.

Protective creams, also known as “barrier creams”, or skin care creams cannot replace gloves or other preventive devices.

Choosing gloves

Ask your glove supplier which gloves are suitable for the work to be done.

It is the responsibility of the employer to ensure that the right type of gloves can be used when work commences.


It is important, for example, to make sure that the gloves are the right size. If they are too small, they may impede the circulation and their ability to insulate against cold or heat may be reduced.

You can wear undergloves made of cotton to absorb moisture.

Protection against chemicals

Protective gloves can only keep out chemicals for a certain time until the chemical penetrates them. This is known as the penetration time. Be aware that this effect starts from the first moment your gloves come into come into contact with the substance, even if the gloves do not appear to be dirty or contaminated.

One type of glove may offer good protection against one chemical, but not necessarily against other, similar ones.
Be aware that mixtures of chemicals may sometimes have different properties to the ones you would expect, given what you know of the properties of the individual components.

Hazardous use of gloves

In some situations, it may be hazardous to wear gloves; such as when working with rotary tools, where there is a risk of the tool grabbing hold of a glove and pulling your hand in.