Dermatitis is a skin infection that usually appears in the hand and then slowly spreads to the body if proper care is not taken.
Industrial dermatitis is the name given to an inflammation of the skin caused by contact with chemicals or substances in the workplace.
The types of jobs that can lead to a claim for industrial dermatitis as an industrial injury include florists, hair dressers and construction workers.
What are the types of Dermatitis?
Basically, there are two types of dermatitis. These are allergic contact dermatitis and irritant contact dermatitis.
Allergic Contact Dermatitis
Allergic contact dermatitis is caused by being exposed to a substance to which you have become hypersensitive or allergic. This type of dermatitis develops in stages.
Once the skin is penetrated by the allergen, sensitization will begin. At first there may be no sign of skin damage but, with repeated or prolonged exposure, symptoms will appear.
Common allergens include nickel or other metals, latex, rubber and fragrances.
Irritant Contact Dermatitis
Irritant contact dermatitis is caused by the exposure to substances such as acids, alkali’s, soaps, cement, cleansing agents, detergents, and solvents.
These damage the skin causing redness and inflammation. Damaged skin may itch, crack and bleed. The condition can spread further all over the body if untreated, and if exposure continues. However, with preventative steps, the skin condition will usually settle.
Typically the condition is treated with steroidal creams and the use of soap substitutes or aqueous creams. Further protection against subsequent attacks of dermatitis can be achieved by wearing adequate protective equipment when in contact with potentially harmful substances.
Work Health & Safety
Employers in the UK are required, under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, to protect their workers from any risk or injury that is reasonably foreseeable.
Further regulations state that this legal duty of care extends to assessing risks that have the potential to cause Industrial Dermatitis and once a risk has been identified, employers must do their best to eliminate or minimise that risk. This could mean an employer using an alternative substance for cleaning, or providing adequate protection for their employees if continued use of the hazardous substance is necessary.
Compensation claims for industrial dermatitis are awarded to reflect the nature and severity of the illness you have. The courts may award money for the pain and suffering the illness has caused you and your claim for compensation will be based on this for all industrial diseases.
It is important to report your condition to your employer and seek medical advice immediately. If you suffer from any of the symptoms of occupational dermatitis, you should not hesitate to contact a team of specialist industrial disease solicitors.