Skin Surveillance

Work-related skin issues are common in many workplaces, and they occur more often than not in high-risk environments. In the long run, they can be costly for a business, employees are off sick, and for some it’s bad enough to end their carer. Employees could suffer during this time, as it may impact their home lives as well as their ability to work effectively.


What are common skin problems at work?


Work-related skin problems are caused by or made worse by exposure to specific substances or environments. These can include a wide range of chemicals and even being in the water for a long period of time.




A very common work-related skim problem is Dermatitis. This is caused by repeat skin irritation or skin sensitisation.  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. 

Other work-related skin conditions can include Urticaria, and skin cancer.


Substances that may cause skin damage


  • Epoxy resins 
  • Latex 
  • Rubber chemicals 
  • Soaps and cleaners 
  • Metalworking fluids 
  • Cement 
  • Wet work 
  • Enzymes 
  • Wood 
  • Corrosive/irritating chemicals 
  • Solvents 
  • Oils 

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    Occupations and industries where work-related skin conditions can occur

    • Beauty
    • Catering and food
    • Cleaning
    • Construction
    • Gardening and floristry
    • Hairdressing
    • NHS and private health services
    • Emergency services
    • Dentistry
    • Printing
    • Metal machining
    • Agriculture
    • Motor vehicle repairs
    • Textiles


    Health Surveillance 


    Health surveillance compliments other preventative measures undertaken by a caring employer. It is not to be used as an alternative to proper controls to exposure. The process of 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 any of the above substances are used at work. Plus any products labeled with risk rating – ’R43 may cause skin sensitisation’. If any of these products are used, health surveillance would be beneficial. 

    Allergy Testing 

    A RAST (radioallergosorbent) test – This 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. 

    Patch testing – 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.

    Skin Surveillance

    Acorn Occupational health can assist you to comply with the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations, 2002 (COSHH) as amended, to control exposure and to protect workers’ health.  

    Skin surveillance takes approximately 10 minutes and includes: 

    • A confidential questionnaire 
    • Health surveillance 
    • Counselling 
    • Referral to a specialist medical consultant if necessary 
    • report for managers which will satisfy HSE requirements 

    Contact us

    To talk to a member of the Acorn Occupational Health team about our skin surveillance service, please call us on 01260 277797 or email us at