Skin Exposures

Measuring Exposure to Workers by Skin Contact and Contaminated Services

  • Dermal / Skin Exposure Testing
  • Glove / Clothing Selection
  • Surface Contamination Testing
  • Dermal / Skin Contact Controls

The Workplace Health And Safety Regulation, 217/2006, states an employer has an obligation to “assess all information that is practicably available to the employer respecting a chemical or biological substance present in the workplace to determine if the substance creates or may create a risk to the safety or health of a worker in the workplace.” (Section 36.2)

This includes exposures through non-airborne routes such as dermal contact and dermal penetration. Dermal contact is when a product comes in contact with the skin. Dermal penetration is when a product is absorbed through the skin and enters the body.

Dermal exposures are often a significant route of exposure. Almost 25% of the chemicals that have exposure limits in Manitoba also have Skin Notations that indicate the potential for significant exposure / absorption through the skin. The Workplace Safety and Health Regulation requires employers to include this route of exposure in the assessment, monitoring and controls in the same fashion as airborne exposures.

Control measures for non-airborne hazards

36.4 If an assessment under section 36.2 determines that non-airborne exposure to a chemical or biological substance creates or may create a risk to the safety or health of a worker, an employer must immediately implement control measures in the workplace to eliminate any risk resulting from non-airborne exposure to the substance.

Dermal / Skin Exposure Testing

Provincial legislation requires that exposures to the skin be included in hazard assessments and monitoring in the same fashion as airborne exposures. Approximately one quarter of chemicals that have occupational exposure standards also pose a potential hazard through contact with the skin. In some cases, such as pesticides, dermal exposure or exposure to the skin is the dominant route of exposure.

Skin Exposure Testing

chemical contaminants on the hands of a worker under ultraviolet light.

Glove / Clothing Selection

Gloves provide protection from solvents. However, over the course of the day, solvents can penetrate gloves and contact the skin. This skin contact, in some cases, can be more significant that airborne exposure. Winnipeg Air Testing can place chemical detector pads under the gloves to test for and quantify breakthrough of solvents through your gloves.

Winnipeg Air Testing can provide recommendation for the right gloves to use for different products. Similarly, we can recommend the proper type of chemical clothing, aprons, and coveralls. This type of information typically includes breakthrough time. In some cases, this can be determined from information available from the manufacturer and in other cases, can be determined by in-the-field or simulation breakthrough testing.

Solvents can pass through protective gloves – either because the gloves have been worn too long or even because the worker is using the incorrect gloves for the product he or she is using. Dermal samplers can be placed under the glove to test for breakthrough of solvents coming through the glove. Worn like a small bandage, the samplers turn from yellow to red when they come in contact with a solvent. Thus, at the end of the work period, if the sampler has changed to red under the glove,it means that the solvent is coming through the protective glove. Winnipeg Air Testing can help in the testing of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves and help in the selection of proper PPE.

Image of Samplers Worn under Protective Gloves to Test for Glove Breakthrough

Surface Contamination

Contamination of tools and work surfaces can result in significant workplace exposures. Isocyanates are high molecular weight molecules that are not found airborne when painted. Primary exposure to isocyanates comes from surface contamination from tools and work surfaces before and after applying the paint. We can test for surface contamination of isocyanates and other types of products to ensure that you have a safe workplace.

Methods exist to sample for the presence of, and determine the degree of, a product on a surface. These methods include vacuuming the surface and collecting material in a cassette or wiping a surface with a swab or gauze pad. The sample is then analyzed at a laboratory to get a quantitative measure of the presence of the substance in question. Typically a template is used to collect the sample from a known area. Testing the same amount of area (e.g., 300 cm2) for each sample allows for better comparison between samples.


Dermal / Skin Contact Controls

The introduction of proper control to prevent skin and surface contamination can save money by reducing the need for housekeeping, gloves and other coveralls.

For a free quotation please contact us.