Protecting Workers from Skin Exposure to Hazardous Materials
The American Board of Industrial Hygiene® (ABIH®) reminds workers and industry of the need to address occupational skin exposures with potentially dangerous substances.
Lansing, MI, February 12th, 2018 --
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) reports that more than 13 million workers in the United States alone are potentially exposed to chemicals that can be absorbed through the skin. The agency goes on to proclaim that dermal exposures to hazardous agents can result in a variety of occupational diseases and disorders, including occupational skin diseases (OSD) and systemic toxicity.
On this issue, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) states, “Most chemicals are readily absorbed through the skin and can cause other health effects and/or contribute to the dose absorbed by inhalation of the chemical from the air. Many studies indicate that absorption of chemicals through the skin can occur without being noticed by the worker. In many cases, skin is a more significant route of exposure than the lung. This is particularly true for non-volatile chemicals which are relatively toxic and which remain on work surfaces for long periods of time.”
According to Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) figures, the number of cases and the rate of skin disease in the U.S. exceeds recordable respiratory illnesses. In 2010, BLS reported 34,400 recordable skin diseases at a rate of 3.4 injuries per 10,000 employees, compared to 19,300 respiratory illnesses with a rate of 1.9 illnesses per 10,000 employees.
“There are countless chemicals found in work environments that can be absorbed through unprotected skin or cause chemical burns,” said Jeffrey Miller, CIH® and Chair of ABIH. “Just as respiratory hazards need to be recognized and addressed, so too do potential skin exposure hazards in order to protect the health and safety of workers. This is also necessary to keep companies and institutions in regulatory compliance due to the fact that dermal exposures are addressed for a number of toxic and hazardous substances in specific OSHA standards.”
Certified Industrial Hygienists (CIHs) are helping companies and institutions deal with potential skin exposure hazards in workplaces across the globe. These dedicated professionals are trained and experienced in workplace assessments that address health risk analysis and hazard communications, biohazards and chemical hazards, toxicology, air sampling, and engineering and exposure controls; and are uniquely qualified to help with all types of occupational exposure hazards. These and other core competencies of the Certified Industrial Hygienist® program are critical for establishing and maintaining a safe and healthy work environment.
To learn more about the American Board of Industrial Hygiene®, Certified Industrial Hygienist® credential, or to locate a CIH® to perform industrial hygiene services, please visit www.ABIH.org, email abih@ABIH.org, or call (517) 321-2638.
About the American Board of Industrial Hygiene®
Since 1960, ABIH®, a not-for-profit corporation, has been the world's largest organization for certifying professionals in the practice of industrial hygiene. ABIH® is the premier credentialing body responsible for ensuring high-quality certification including education, experience, examination, certification maintenance, and ethics enforcement. Currently, more than 6900 people in 32 countries are certified to use the CIH® credential.