When skin comes into contact with certain substances at work, this can cause occupational dermatitis, the most common forms of which are irritant contact dermatitis and allergic dermatitis. The result is damage to skin cells, swelling, flaking, cracking and blistering or a rash.
7 Top Tips for Preventing Dermatitis at Work
- Begin by establishing whether you use any of the following in your workplace: soaps and detergents; antiseptics; perfumes and preservatives in toiletries or cosmetics; solvents; cement; acids and alkalis; powders, dust and soil; flour; oils used in machinery; and disinfectants. All of these products have the potential to cause dermatitis. Similarly, if a job involves a lot of wet work, e.g. hairdressing, this activity may also give rise to skin problems.
- Identify all the skin irritants and sensitisers in use in the workplace and assess each for risk. Introduce effective control measures by substituting these products with agents which have a lower level of reactivity.
- Train staff on the causes and symptoms of occupational dermatitis and other skin conditions, including skin hygiene and self-examination, the correct use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and your reporting procedures.
- Encourage staff to report any symptoms and prevent further exposure whilst the cause is fully investigated. If you do not have an Occupational Health Department, referral to a dermatologist may be appropriate. If the health specialist or dermatologist confirms that the employee is suffering from occupational dermatitis, you must report it to your enforcing authority under RIDDOR 2013.
- Provide barrier creams and appropriate PPE.
- Ensure you provide regular health surveillance for employees who are likely to be exposed to any agent which may give rise to occupational dermatitis and keep health records of the individuals concerned.
- Review your risk assessment and management strategy regularly and always following incidents.
Work-related dermatitis is very common and criminal or civil claims may be expensive, particularly if the affected employee can no longer work in the vicinity of the irritant. Make sure you manage the risk effectively.
Contact us should you require assistance.