Skin Function and Occupational Skin Hazards
Human skin is the largest organ, representing 15% of body weight and serving as external protective barrier for the entire body. The skin has important physiological functions that are vital for the organism, such as the protective role, the thermoregulatory function, waterproofing, tactile sensation, and the synthesis of vitamin D. On the other hand, the skin can also serve as the site of passage for hazardous substances such as chemicals that threaten human’s health, given that it is exposed to environmental and occupational hazards that may cause injury, skin sensitization, irritation, or systemic disorders. A number of occupations are known to expose workers to skin sensitizers and irritants (medical professionals, dental technicians, construction workers, farmers, florists, hairdressers, estheticians, metal workers, mechanics, machinists, miners, printers, textile workers, etc.), whereas others are subject to contact with skin carcinogens (road construction workers, coal gas manufacturers and handlers, pitch loaders, brick and tile workers, timber proofers, cutting oil and lubricant manufacturers and handlers, aluminum reduction workers, oil refinery workers, insecticide manufacturers and handlers, paraffin wax workers, etc.). To promote occupational safety and health of workers, implementing periodic educational sessions and training to increase awareness on the health risks posed by hazards at workplace and performing biological monitoring in the work environment with sampling workstations and the skin are among the safety measures for hazard assessment and risk control.
KeywordsRisk assessment Risk control Skin carcinogen Skin hazard Skin irritant Skin sensitizer
European Agency for Safety and Health at Work
Health risk assessment
International Council on Mining and Metals
Occupational exposure limit
Occupational safety and health
Personal protective equipment
Risk control action plan
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