Occupational Skin Disorders

Occupational Skin DisordersAn invisible threat to Health, Safety & Efficiency

Occupational skin disorders, including work-related eczema, are a serious health issue that currently go largely unreported in the workplace; an invisible threat that affect both an organisation’s efficiency and the health and well-being of its employees.

"Up to 40% of workers will suffer a skin issue at some point in their working life."
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention

"At any one time up to 10-15% of workers suffer from dermatitis."
Luckhaupt et al; American Journal of Industrial Medicine 56:623-634 (2013)

" The incidence of occupational skin diseases...may be underestimated by 10 to 50 times."
European Dermatology Forum White Book – Skin Diseases in Europe

Everyday workers are potentially exposed to contaminants and conditions that can be harmful to their skin, for example:

  • Water based detergents, liquids, chemicals
  • UVA and UVB sun rays
  • UVC rays from arc welding
  • Cold conditions indoors or outdoors
  • Mechanical oils, greases, solvents, cutting fluids
  • Resins, adhesives, paints, sealants
  • Dust, powders & airborne substances
  • Abrasion from tools, components and materials you handle
  • Sweating from wearing PPE such as gloves and safety footwear

Exposure to contaminants and working conditions, that can be harmful to skin health, potentially lead to risks for both the employee and the employer.

Risk for Employees

  • Sickness / absence from work
  • Reduced efficiency at work
  • Reduced pay
  • Lower morale and self-esteem
  • In worst cases, change of career

Risk for Employers

  • Bad publicity
  • Increased cost due to sickness days
  • Reduced productivity
  • Increased training & recruitment costs
  • In worst cases, potential compensation claims

The majority of cases of occupational skin disorder are irritant and allergic contact dermatitis, accounting for up to 95%, followed by skin cancer.

" Occupational skin diseases are estimated to cost the EU €600m each year, resulting in around 3m lost working days…and force many workers to change jobs. "
European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, Fact Sheet No.40

" Skin diseases are the second most common work-related health problem in Europe. They represent more than 7% of all occupational illnesses and are one of the most important emerging risks related to the exposure to chemical, physical and biological risk factors. "
European Agency for Safety and Health at Work

 The Key Barriers to Effective Skin Care:

  1. Other priorities and lack of understanding or recognition of the importance of skin health
  2. Insufficient training and education for workers
  3. The lack of appropriate skin care products and facilities
  4. The location and accessibility of the products
  5. The format in which products are provided, which can discourage product use
  6. Some ingredients which can have a negative impact on skin condition