Occupational Dermatitis – How Can Employers Prevent This?

Occupational Dermatitis – How Can Employers Prevent This?

You may be aware of the fact that October is ‘National Eczema Awareness Month’ – however how much do you know about the causes of eczema and what employers should be doing to help prevent it?

Eczema, also known as dermatitis, is a dry skin condition which affects people of all ages. It is primarily seen in children however there is an estimated 84,000 people who suffer from work related dermatitis across our nation. Many people are unaware of the fact that the irritants and substances they are working with may be causing their skin problems and therefore it is likely that the number of suffers may actually be significantly more.

Occupational dermatitis affects workers across all industries as a result of contact with irritants or allergens in their working environment. Studies have shown that up to 40% of employees will suffer from occupational dermatitis at some point in their working life. The following industries have been listed as ‘high risks occupations’ by the Health and Safety Executive website:-

  • Catering
  • Hairdressing
  • Health services
  • Dentistry
  • Printing
  • Metal machining
  • Motor vehicle repair
  • Construction

Occupational dermatitis can be prevented but effective prevention requires full co-operation between employees and employers – therefore you should bring it to your employer’s immediate attention if you suffer from occupational dermatitis. Ideally employers should carry out the following steps to help prevent their employees from getting occupational dermatitis:-

1. Conduct regular risks assessments regarding the working practice particularly if employees are dealing with substances which may represent a danger to the skin

2. Reduce the amount of exposure you have to these substance to the lowest level

3. Provide adequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as gloves

4. Engage in effective training in order to increase employees’ awareness of occupational dermatitis and encourage the importance of using PPE and minimising contact with the irritants and substances used

5. Review and monitor the working practice and effectiveness of controlling the use of the substances and PPE

As with most illnesses and diseases, it is easier to prevent dermatitis than cure it. It is therefore important that you look after your skin and seek medical advice should any symptoms transpire.

If you believe your employer has failed to prevent or reduce the development of dermatitis among its employees, please do not hesitate to contact Roberts Jackson Solicitors on 0808 252 5504 for Free initial legal advice.