Keep hands healthy

17 June 2015

Industrial strength wipes need to be powerful enough to clean filth, but it is crucial they look after your hands too, explains Nigel Dibbo, managing director of Big Wipes

According to the latest Health and Safety Executive (HSE) figures available, there are over 35,000 cases of work-related skin diseases diagnosed by GPs every year in the UK. For many manual workers and cleaning professionals, hands are their livelihood and so cleaning them effectively while still being able to care for them is extremely important. Speedy removal of irritants is essential as skin disease on the hands can be debilitating and has serious implications when trying to continue with work. 


When skin is put at risk

Your skin is your body’s largest organ and is its protective barrier. However, if harmful substances accumulate on your skin, that barrier can be broken and leave hands sore and inflamed and with the potential to cause long-term health issues. Skin disease can be incapacitating for the sufferer, meaning that work becomes difficult and livelihoods put in jeopardy. 

There are common signs of skin problems to look for on your hands such as dryness, redness, cracking or swelling of the hands and fingers as well as blisters, flaking and itching. Workers can develop these symptoms as they come into direct contact with substances commonly used on site. If you are immersing your hands in liquids, or getting them splashed on a regular basis then your hands may suffer. Contact with contaminated tools or surfaces can also lead to harmful substances landing on the skin.


The 'APC' approach

The HSE advises workers to use the ‘APC’ approach when it comes to looking after your hands, which stands for Avoid, Protect and Check. Logically therefore, you should avoid direct contact between unprotected hands and substances, products and wet work where this is sensible and practical. You should also protect the skin as avoiding contact will not always be possible, and check your hands for the first signs of itchy, dry or red skin.

When you’re a construction worker or engineer for example, avoiding contact with filth can be impossible. Washing your hands is the most obvious way to get rid of potentially harmful substances but more often than not, there is no access to cleaning facilities. Even when water and soap are readily available, they just won’t shift the majority of modern construction and maintenance products.

For some people, gloves might be the answer. But for some jobs, gloves are not suitable, and for others, the gloves themselves can cause problems. Uriticaria can be a reaction to substances such as latex (used in some gloves) and can cause an almost immediate raised, itchy rash that can also cause tingling and burning. For those times when gloves cannot be used, quick removal of the irritants using wipes, should be considered. 


Wipes that perform & protect

One example of a wiping product currently in the market is Big Wipes 4x4 formulation, which is preservative free and mainly water-based. In addition to four powerful cleaning agents, Big Wipes contain four dermatologically tested skin conditioners: Aloe Vera, Lanolin, Vitamin E and Glycerine ‐ all helping to nourish and protect the skin. The Big Wipes range has been assessed to the latest EU Regulation 1223/2009 for cosmetic products with zero levels of irritation recorded during controlled testing by dermatologists. The range also offers >99.9% antibacterial protection for your skin. All Big Wipes are used without water and thus are suitable for on-site use where water isn’t available.

Silicone and PU foam, for instance, are nasty products to get on your fingers and skin and difficult to get off yourself and bathroom and kitchen surfaces. Using the 4x4 Heavy-Duty Big Wipe to clear up spills will get your hands clean of these repellent substances, and your tools and equipment too. The ‘one wipe and it’s gone’ biodegradable formula also ensures the removal of paint and varnishes, adhesives, oil, sealants and general grime from hands, tools and surfaces. 

Individuals who are concerned they may have a skin problem should always visit their GP for advice. But, as the HSE advises, protection is an important step to preventing problems from occurring. Therefore wipes might well be the answer to protecting the most important tools of all – your hands.