What is occupational dermatitis?
3 mins read

What is occupational dermatitis?

Occupational dermatitis is a skin condition which can develop as a result of a person being exposed to certain substances in chemicals, products and chemicals at work. It occurs when a person’s skin inflames, and is most commonly found on the hands and arms, although can affect any area of the body if it comes into contact with harsh substances. It isn’t contagious, so can’t spread from one person to another.

Occupational dermatitis can be very painful and can get in the way of the sufferer’s day-to-day life. They might even have to resign from their job because of the condition. Because of this, many people file occupational dermatitis claims against their employer for failing to give them proper protection so they wouldn’t develop or trigger the condition.

Symptoms of occupational dermatitis

There are several symptoms of occupational dermatitis. You might get just one, a variety, or all of them whilst you suffer from the condition. Some common symptoms of the condition include:

  • Redness
  • Rashes
  • Itching
  • Cracking
  • Blotchiness
  • Swelling

If you experience any symptoms of occupational dermatitis, it is a good idea to take a trip to the doctors and get an official diagnosis. They will be able to provide you with some sort of treatment or medication to relieve your symptoms. How severe your symptoms are will depend on what substance has caused the dermatitis to develop and how frequently you have had contact with it for.

Trigger substances which are known to cause the above symptoms are often referred to as ‘causative agents’, and include:

  • Cement
  • Bleaches
  • Paints
  • Glues
  • Flour

Jobs at risk of developing the condition

Working in one of the following professions or industries can mean that you are more likely to develop or trigger occupational dermatitis:

  • Cooking, catering and hospitality
  • Nursing and healthcare
  • Hairdressing and beauty
  • Cleaning and housekeeping
  • Engineering and construction

The reason these roles carry a higher risk for workers is because they involve frequent contact with ‘causative agents’. Although these professions are at a higher risk, it should be noted that employers in all sectors can develop occupational dermatitis. The condition can occur from regular contact with a weak causative agent or a shorter period of exposure to a much stronger substance.

Employer and employee responsibilities

Your employer has a duty – by law – to protect you from substances which can cause you harm. This includes causative agents which can cause occupational dermatitis. If there is even the slightest chance that you could develop the condition your employer should provide you with adequate protection such as gloves or long-sleeved tops to cover your arms.

You have a right to protective wear, but you also have a responsibility to report to your employer if you are noticing signs or symptoms of occupational dermatitis. They should – but might not – be aware of potentially harmful substances, so it is right for you to let them know, giving them the chance to rectify their mistake. Also, if you report it and your employer continues to fail to protect you from the causative agents whilst at work, you could file a strong occupational dermatitis claim. Most industrial disease solicitors will be able to assess your claim for you quickly and inform you of your chances at a successful outcome.