Industrial Disease Claims
BRINGING A CONTACT DERMATITIS CLAIM
What is Contact Dermatitis?
Contact dermatitis is one of the most widespread causes of ill health at work and when chronic, can make work impossible. In the UK, 0.65 million days are lost per year for men as a result of it, and 0.2 million for women. It accounts for 30 per cent of all work related health problems. It is a condition of the skin which can be caused by exposure to certain substances at work. It can be caused by the skin being exposed to an irritant (i.e. irritant contact dermatitis) or to an allergen (i.e. allergic contact dermatitis). Irritant contact dermatitis is the most prevalent form with allergic contact dermatitis affecting only a small minority.
Irritant contact dermatitis is caused by substances such as acids, alkalis, soaps, detergents, and solvents, that physically damage the skin or its protective oils and result in an outbreak or eruption of the skin which leaves the skin inflamed. Initial signs include redness, itching, scaling and blistering. As the condition progresses, the skin can crack and bleed and the dermatitis can spread further all over the body. Normally, the skin settles down once the sufferer ceases to work with the substance causing the problem.
Allergic contact dermatitis is caused by exposure to a substance to which a person has become hypersensitive or allergic. It develops in stages. The allergenic action of a substance depends on its ability to destroy the protective action of the skin so that the allergen can penetrate. Once the skin is penetrated, sensitisation begins. The process can last from 4 days to 3 weeks with no sign of skin damage at this stage. To cause sensitisation the allergenic substance combines with the skin proteins and is carried around the whole body by white blood cells called lymphocytes, which form part of the body's immune system. The immune system has a 'memory', enabling it to recognise and neutralise substances more than once. When a sensitised worker is re-exposed to the substance, the lymphocytes recognise the allergen and react with it, releasing tissue damaging chemicals called lymphokines. This is when symptoms appear. If there is no further contact with the allergen, sensitivity may gradually decline. Common allergens include nickel or other metals, medications, latex, rubber, cosmetics, fragrances, and perfumes.
Under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (MHSW) and Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH), employers have a legal duty to assess the risks which could cause dermatitis and hence to prevent employees coming into contact with substances which can cause dermatitis. Under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 (RIDDOR), diagnosed cases of occupational dermatitis must be reported to the Health and Safety Executive.
To prevent contact dermatitis, employers should:-
Assess all hazardous substances under COSHH using both manufacturers safety data sheets and information on the specific workplace
Stop using substances concerned, by either substituting a less hazardous substance, or redesigning the job to eliminate chemicals altogether
If the substance cannot be substituted, redesign the process to prevent hazardous exposures, for example by enclosing the system
Provide adequate welfare facilities (washing and drying close to work area) and ensure aggressive cleaning materials are not themselves a factor
Carry out health surveillance, via occupational health nurses or doctors or competent personnel
Provide adequate information, instruction, training and supervision to employees
Ensure substances requiring dilution are handled correctly and diluted before being distributed
Store and label substances correctly with the appropriate hazards warning and instructions on neutralising
Barrier creams and personal protective equipment, such as gloves, aprons, face shields and overalls, are a last resort. If used, the employer should provide and maintain them and they must be suitable for both the job and the workers. Many substances can penetrate ordinary creams and rubber gloves, which can then hold the substance against the skin.
Occupations at Risk
Occupations which can cause or aggravate contact dermatitis include:-
|Artists||Turpentine, pigments, dyes, colophon, epoxy resin|
|Automobile and Aircraft Industry Workers||Chromates, nickel, cobalt, rubber, epoxy and dimethacrylate resins|
|Bakers and Confectioners||Flavours and spices, orange, lemon, essential oils, dyes, ammonium persulphate, benzoyl peroxide|
|Bartenders||Orange, lemon, lime flavours|
|Bookbinders||Glues, resins, leathers|
|Carpenters||Stains, glues, woods, turpentine, varnishes, colophony|
|Cleaners||Rubber (latex) gloves|
|Constructions Workers||Chromates, cobalt, rubber and leather gloves, resins, woods|
|Cooks and Caterers||Foods, onions, garlic, spices, flavour, rubber gloves, sodium metabisulphite, lauryl and octyl gallate, formaldehyde, latex|
|Dentists and Dental Technicians||Local anaesthetics, mercury, methacrylates, eugenol, disinfectants, rubber, dental impression material|
|Dry Cleaners||Rubber gloves|
|Electricians||Fluxes, resins, rubber|
|Electroplaters||Nickel, chromium, cobalt|
|Farming||Rubber, oats, barley, animal feed, veterinary medications, cements, plants|
|Floor Layers||Cement, resins, wood varnish|
|Florists and Gardeners||Plants, pesticides, rubber gloves|
|Hairdressers||Dyes, persulphates, nickel, perfumes, rubber (latex) gloves, formaldehyde, resorcinol, pyrogallol|
|Jewellers||Epoxy resin, metals, soldering fluxes|
|Mechanics||Rubber gloves, chromates, epoxy resin, antifreeze|
|Medical Personnel||Rubber (latex) gloves, anaesthetics, antibiotics, antiseptics, phenolthiazines, formaldehyde, glutaraldehyde, liquid chloroxylenol, hand creams|
|Metal workers||Nickel, chromates, additives in some cutting oils|
|Office Workers||Rubber, nickel, glue|
|Painters||Turpentine, thinners, cobalt, chromates, polyester resins, formaldehyde, epoxy resin, adhesives, paints|
|Photography Industry Workers||bber gloves, colour developers, para-amino phenol, hydroquinone, formaldehyde, sodium metabisulphite, chromates|
|Printers||Solvents, talc, zinc stearate|
|Textile Workers||Fibres, bleaching agents, solvents|
|Veterinarians||Disinfectants, wet work, animals|
How To Contact Us
To contact The Accident Solicitors about a personal injury claim, please either telephone us on 0333 3010 700 or complete the short questionnaire above. Simply click the 'Send Now' button to submit the questionnaire once you have completed it. Upon receipt, it will be assessed by a solicitor who will then contact you to discuss the matter. The solicitor appointed to contact you, will be a specialist in your type of accident. The Accident Solicitors handle cases on behalf of clients throughout the country. Our head office is based in Wilmslow, Cheshire, and we also have offices in Manchester, Liverpool, Warrington, Chester, Stoke-on-Trent, Leeds, Sheffield, Preston, Nottingham, London, Exeter, Bristol, and Birmingham.
This initial consultation is completely free of charge.