Employers should carry out a COSHH assessment (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health) if hazardous substances are in use. These substances display signs and symbols on the container to indicate the type of hazard and a Safety Data Sheet can be obtained from the manufacturer or supplier. This provides further information about the hazards, which could include other types of hazard – not just skin hazards, and this information should be considered when you are deciding whether to use a substance and how to use it.
As part of the assessment process you should consider whether you can eliminate the use of a hazardous substance or substitute a less hazardous one. Here are some examples of how you can reduce skin risks from hazardous substances: Eliminate use of a hazardous substance, or if that is not possible, substitute a less harmful substance. For example, consider using water based paints, glues or coatings in preference to solvent or epoxy based products. If a hazardous substance is to be used, consider how it will be mixed and applied and prevent contact with the skin where possible. For example, use long stemmed rollers or spreaders with splash guards to apply epoxy or solvent based products. As a last resort, gloves and other protective equipment may be used to provide additional protection. Suppliers can help to select a glove suitable for the relevant hazardous substance and the process involved. If you are working with hazardous substances make sure you use any protective equipment provided and follow procedures given to you by your employer.