Skin Protection

Man sanding

Why should you cover your skin?

To keep workplace chemicals off your skin and away from your family.

Skin protection is turning out to be more important to health than anyone realized! Isocyanates, the chemicals often found in hardeners, are sensitizers. They can cause asthma.

Dust and chemicals that get on your skin get on everything you touch. If you don't wash your hands very thoroughly, chemicals can be transferred to the steering wheel of your car, to the end of the cigarette that goes in your mouth, to your telephone, and to anything else you touch. And then, to anyone else who touches those objects.

Dust including chemical dusts, can stick to your clothing or your shoes and then come off again in your car or in your home.

When should you cover your skin?

Cover your skin when doing any task that involves touching or splashing of liquid or uncured surfaces, such as recently applied primer or clearcoat or bondo, even if it is dry to the touch. Cover your skin to protect it from sprayed paint or primer or topcoat. Cover your skin to protect it from dust. Some of these tasks are listed below - and what to wear:

  • Applying or sanding filler material, like bondo - Gloves for applying, gloves and long sleeves for sanding
  • Mixing primer, sealer, paint, clearcoat - Gloves
  • Spraying primer, sealer, paint, clearcoat - Gloves and coveralls with hoods
  • Wet or dry sanding of primer - Gloves
  • Removing masking and tape - Gloves
  • Grinding - Gloves and long sleeves
  • Welding - Leather gloves and leather front and sleeves
  • Buffing or compounding - Gloves
  • Using 2-part glue or caulk - Gloves

What autobody chemicals can cause health effects if you get them on your skin?

  • Isocyanates may be found in primers, sealers, topcoats and even caulks or glues. Repeated exposure to these chemicals can cause asthma. Skin exposure to isocyanates may be even more potent than inhaled exposure in causing the development of asthma. Read more…
  • Solvents can damage your skin, causing it to dry and crack. Some solvents, such as those in strippers, may even burn your skin. They can also go through your skin causing damage to your liver and possibly other organs. Read more…
  • Dusts, including dusts containing metals, do not go through your skin directly, but can easily be transferred from your hands to your mouth. Read more…
Coveralls

What is the best protection to use?

Coveralls

The best protection against isocyanates recommended by NIOSH is treated tyvek. In our studies, nylon, regular tyvek and even normal clothing was shown to be fairly effective in preventing dusts and aerosols from getting on the skin. But none of these provide perfect protection.

Hoods

Hoods protect your head and neck. Coveralls that come with hoods are effective. Hoods that come with SARs and PAPRs are also effective, especially when they have bibs that tuck into the coveralls.

Gloves

There is no single glove that offers protection against all chemicals. Read more about gloves…

  • Nitrile gloves offer the best protection against isocyanate exposures and are effective against many solvents for short periods of time. They should not be reused, but should be discarded after each use.
  • Any plastic glove can be effective against dust, but it must be heavy enough to resist tearing, or can be used under a cotton glove or fabric glove to protect it from tearing.
  • Leather should be used for welding to protect against burns.
Long Sleeves Protect

Long pants and long sleeves

Even regular clothing can be effective in preventing exposure to isocyanate in the paint aerosols and in keeping some dusts off your skin, but these should not be worn home. Coveralls protect your family by keeping the dust and chemicals off your clothing so you don't carry them to your car and home.

Respirators

Respirators offer excellent skin protection for the part of the face that they cover. Read more…

Dirty work clothes

How should work clothes be cleaned?

  • Uniforms that are left at work are the best. If a laundry service is used, make sure that the laundry service knows the potential hazards.
  • If street clothes are worn, these should be left at work and washed at work.
  • If that is not possible, change out of work clothes at work, take them home in a plastic bag and wash them separately from the family's wash.