Skin Surveillance

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:  

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

Occupations such as construction work, rubber making, printing, paint spraying, agriculture, 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 labeled with risk rating – R43 may cause skin sensitisation and therefore 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 

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