Mechanics get their hands dirty in almost all parts of their jobs with a range of oils, grease and dirt.Throughout the day we are consistently using our hands for everyday tasks, whether it’s at work, socialising or just relaxing at home, but there are many things our hands can touch that can be dangerous. Not only can keeping your hands clean help prevent you spreading dirt from one thing to another but it also helps prevent you from illnesses and diseases that can affect your hands.
The Health and safety executive mention that; “It’s estimated that 66,000 people in the UK are suffering from skin disease caused by work. About 4 million working days are lost in the UK each year because of skin disease, the total annual cost to industry runs into hundreds of millions.”
This shows us that we need to be careful how often we clean our hands and what products we use to clean them with.
Hand cleaning and the workplace
Mechanics often find that their hands are completely covered in some grease or oil when working on vehicles, meaning that to ensure they don’t damage their skin they must keep them clean at all times.
There are a range of skin conditions that mechanics can be in risk of such as dermatitis, nail and hand infections, vibration white finger and even in rare conditions skin cancer.
This means that mechanics need to have suitable washing detergents available at all times, to remove any dangerous chemicals and liquids from their hands as soon as possible.
How to wash your hands
It may seem silly to be told how to wash your hands, but many people are known to wash their hands the wrong way. One main rule to washing your hands properly is to make sure that you put water onto your hands first. Not prewashing your hands and directly adding soap onto your skin can cause more damage to them and in time increase the chances of skin diseases.
The process is as follows:
- Prewash your hands; this will loosen the heavy dirt on your hands
- Apply hand cleaner, and rub into every nook and cranny you can find, especially around the nails where the grease would collect
- Gently rinse and scrub you hands at the same time
- Check over areas of your hands that you might have missed; if you have then washed them again
- Gently dry your hands with a clean towel or tissue
- Consider applying hand cream to prevent skin damage and moisturise the skin
Waterless hand products
There is a large range of suitable waterless products available for the workplace and general use such as hand wipes and the waterless hand washers available in bottles. The waterless bottles use a range of chemicals including alcohol to sterilise your hands from bacteria and other substances.
The hand wipes also work in the same way, but unlike the hand gel they can be used for heavy duty cleaning, since the dirt and grease gets removed onto the wipes instead of just killing the bacteria on your hands, giving you an overall better clean.
Replacing natural oils lost
When using waterless hand products such as waterless hand washers the natural oils that your skin produces to help protect it also get removed.
To ensure that your hands keep these you should always try to find suitable cleaners have added natural oils that your hands need to ensure that your skin doesn’t get damaged.
One great oil for restoring the skin on your hands is olive oil, it contains a range of minerals and oils that can help remoistened your hands after work.
Other risky chemicals that you might find in some products are solvents, they are strong chemicals that help remove the different dirt that you have on your hands but don’t tend to leave your hands in a healthy condition. You should always look for a solvent free cleaner to prevent this.
Helpful tips for mechanics
- Before starting work on a vehicle try putting a little bit of Vaseline onto your hands, this will prevent the build up of dirt on your hands when working on vehicles.
- When using hazardous materials always use gloves, or if you have to use your hands, immediately wash them afterwards.
- Always check your products to see if they contain any strong solvents, this can do more damage to your skin then good.
- Vibrating tools such as drills can damage the skin on your hands over time, make sure to take regular breaks and use the correct equipment with the tool.
- Consider investing in some suitable hand wipes for quick cleaning on the go.
- Always read the ingredients of the product you are looking at, some hand products contain lanolin, which is extracted from dead animals.