Risk level

Do you have an iron will?

Drilling, milling, turning and screwing… or perhaps programming a computer? As a machinist you can be involved in making all kinds of products from metal. These can include everything from large vehicles to small items such as door locks and nuts.

What are the risks?

Working with metal requires cutting fluid to cool and lubricate the material. Many jobs involve getting your hands wet, which is damaging for the skin. What's more, cutting fluid contains both oils and preservatives which can cause allergies.

There is also a risk that you will develop allergies to various metals such as chromium, cobalt and nickel. An allergy will cause eczema when the substance comes into contact with the skin. The skin then becomes dry, red and flaky with cracks and blisters that itch.

Prevention and avoidance

Prevent problems with hand eczema by rubbing in an unperfumed moisturising cream before and after work. Gloves also offer protection but can't be used for all aspects of the job.

The job of machinist involves more and more automated work - for example, some processes can be controlled via a computer. This type of work is a good choice if you want to avoid problems with eczema.

Want to know more?

If you have any questions or want to know more about allergy and eczema when working as a machinist, get in touch with your school nurse or careers adviser.