Occupational skin disease is a common health problem. Repeat skin irritation or skin sensitisation can lead to dermatitis. If signs of dermatitis are detected early and the affected employee reduces work exposure to the substances responsible, the disease may be reduced or cured. However, dermatitis can be irreversible if left untreated. If skin becomes sensitised, even a small amount of exposure can trigger a severe reaction.
Substances that may cause skin damage and dermatitis:
- Epoxy resins
- Rubber chemicals
- Soaps and cleaners
- Metalworking fluids
- Wet work
- Corrosive/irritating chemicals
Occupations such as construction work, rubber making, printing, paint spraying, agriculture, horticulture, electroplating, cleaning, catering hairdressing, floristry and health service work are all associated with dermatitis.
Health surveillance compliments other preventative measures undertaken by a caring employer. Health surveillance is not to be used as an alternative to proper controls to exposure. Health surveillance involves collecting and using information about workers health relating to the substances they work with. This helps to prevent dermatitis from developing by detecting early symptoms.
Health surveillance is recommended if the above substances are used at work. Products labelled with risk rating – R43 may cause skin sensitisation and therefore health surveillance would be beneficial.
Health surveillance assists the employer to comply with the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations, 2002 (COSHH) as amended, to control exposure and to protect workers’ health.
How can Acorn Occupational Health help you?
As a leading provider of occupational health services across the UK, Acorn Occupational Health’s dedicated health surveillance teams will work with you to ensure that onsite visits run smoothly and effectively. Each employee receives a personal summary of their health surveillance. The employer will receive a non-confidential health record for each individual, along with anonymous group statistics where appropriate. Our experienced Medical Technicians/Occupational Health Advisors aim to deliver a cost effective service designed to meet the needs of your business.
Skin surveillance takes approximately 10 minutes and includes:
- A confidential questionnaire
- Health surveillance
- Referral to a specialist medical consultant if necessary
- A record sheet for managers which will satisfy HSE requirements
A RAST (radioallergosorbent) test is a blood test used to investigate increased sensitivity to a variety of food groups (e.g. eggs, cows’ milk and nuts), house dust mite and animal dander (hair or fur). It is often used in the investigation of patients with atopic eczema.
This is used in the investigation of contact dermatitis. It is mainly used where eczema is confined to a specific site, for example, only the hands or the face.
Eczema which is worsening or failing to respond to conventional treatment should also be investigated in this way. Substances tested will depend on exposure.