Are You at Risk of Occupational Dermatitis?

Washing hands causing occupational dermatitis
LLB (Hons) & LPC Stacy Pimlott
Written by: Jessica Lee Legally reviewed by: LLB (Hons) & LPC Stacy Pimlott Updated: In: Industrial Disease

Occupational Dermatitis is a skin condition caused by exposure to various substances and/or irritants that cause the skin to react. There are two main types of occupational dermatitis; irritant contact dermatitis and allergic contact dermatitis.

What is Irritant Occupational Dermatitis?

Irritant contact dermatitis is a result of exposure to an irritant. Many things, including water, can be classed as irritants if exposure to them causes injury to the skin. Some common irritants are:

  • Detergents
  • Oils
  • Soaps
  • Cleaning products
  • Greases

What is Allergic Occupational Dermatitis?

Allergic contact dermatitis is when the skin comes into contact with something that a person is allergic to, or develops an allergy to. Some examples include:

  • Hair dye
  • Latex
  • Adhesives/glues
  • Cement

Symptoms of Occupational Dermatitis

Symptoms of both irritant contact and allergic contact dermatitis include itching, reddening of the skin, cracking, blisters and bleeding. It can occur anywhere on the body that is exposed to the relevant substance but is most commonly found on the hands, wrists, forearms and face.

It is estimated that approximately 84,000 people working in the UK are suffering from occupational dermatitis.

What Jobs are Prone to Dermatitis

There are some industries where you may be more susceptible to dermatitis than others. These include:

  • Hairdressing
  • Catering
  • Care providers such as nurses and carers
  • Beauticians
  • Cleaners
  • Kitchen Staff
  • Construction workers.

Steps Your Employer Should Take

Whenever an employee may be exposed to an irritant or allergen an employer should carry out a risk assessment and consider what steps are required in order to protect employees and prevent the development of occupational dermatitis. Sometimes it may be the protective steps themselves that are the very cause of the dermatitis.

Some people may suffer from rubber or latex allergies which may cause symptoms if wearing gloves that are inappropriate for the individual. Also wearing gloves can cause the hands to sweat and become irritated. Again this may lead to dermatitis.

In some roles, it is important to frequently wash hands. However, frequent hand washing and/or the frequent use of hand sanitisers can also lead to dermatitis. Additionally, face coverings worn to protect employees from developing both skin and respiratory-related conditions can also irritate the skin and lead to dermatitis.

Severe dermatitis can have a great impact on the sufferer’s daily life. It can affect not only their ability to carry out their duties at work properly and thus their enjoyment of their role but also on their life outside work, impacting their ability to carry out day-to-day tasks like washing and dressing.

Reducing the Risk of Occupational Dermatitis

The key to reducing the likelihood of developing occupational dermatitis is careful consideration of the risks by the employer and swift action by the employee should they notice symptoms. Often the longer symptoms are left untreated the worse they become and the harder it is for the dermatitis to clear.

Mild dermatitis may be treated by over the counter medication following a discussion with a pharmacist. If further treatment is required this is often cleared up following medication from a GP. A doctor will also be able to discuss potential causes of the dermatitis and the possibility that it has been occupationally induced.

Occupational dermatitis is an industrial disease. Should an employee suffer from occupational dermatitis the employer has a responsibility to report this to the HSE. In severe cases, an employee may contact the Department for Work and Pensions so that they may discuss assessment for industrial injuries disablement benefit.

Expert Work-Related Dermatitis Solicitors

Starting Your Occupational Dermatitis Claim

Do you think you suffer from work-related dermatitis?

We will help you establish the cause of your occupational dermatitis when we assess your eligibility to claim for occupational dermatitis compensation.

After our industrial disease solicitors have assessed your eligibility to claim industrial dermatitis compensation, we will put together a strong case on your behalf, helping you claim for the maximum compensation. We are regulated by the solicitors regulation authority and the industrial disease claims are no win no fee basis.

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