What can I do to protect myself?

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) offers the following advice to workers and employers:

  • Read the label and familiarise yourself with the risks of using any chemicals or agents.
  • Use an appropriate barrier cream before work and a hand cleanser after work.

The HSE urges employers to use the hierarchy of control approach to eliminate or reduce risks:

  • Eliminate or substitute the substance, for example by using a scraper to remove paint instead of paint stripping with a solvent, or by replacing a high-concentration detergent with a milder solution.
  • If eliminating or substituting the substance is not practical, look at whether the process could be changed to avoid contact. Options include complete enclosure and automation (limiting skin exposure to cleaning and maintenance tasks), putting up a shield between the employee and the source of the irritant, e.g. a splashguard or screen, or using mechanical handling or tools such as scoops, hooks or tongs.
  • Prevent contact with the substance or item by, for example, wearing gloves. Make sure they are suitable for protecting you against the product you are using. Repair or replace them when damaged.
  • Wear a face shield or full-face mask and protective overalls if you work where liquids, fumes or dust that can cause dermatitis might get onto your face or neck.
  • If you use diluted chemicals, make sure they are diluted to the correct strength.
Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.