Dermatitis in the printing industry
What you need to know
Print workers using chemicals risk developing dermatitis mainly on fingers, and webs between fingers. Printing press workers are particularly affected on the backs of hands as well as wrists, forearms and elbows.
The most common work related substances used in printing which generally aggravate skin conditions are:
- wash-up solutions;
- inks and cleaning solvents;
- UV varnishes and inks;
- developers, thinners; and
- hand cleansers.
Printing processes with a particularly high occurrence of skin problems are:
- correction of litho plates* high risk activity;
- solvent use;
- UV cured ink use;
- materials containing isocyanates;
- cleaning of litho rollers and cylinders* high risk activity;
- guillotining; and
- press room chemical handling.
What you need to do
Follow the steps set out in the guidance Preventing contact dermatitis at work:
- Avoid contact with materials that cause dermatitis
- Protect the skin – provide gloves, cleansers, cream and training
- Check for early signs of dermatitis – Health Surveillance programme
Follow good practice set out in these task specific posters:
- Skin checks for dermatitis poster; Look for signs of dryness, itching and redness and report any symptoms to your employer.
- Skin care - Hand washing and applying hand cream poster; Promptly wash skin contamination and thoroughly dry skin after washing. Use moisturising creams.
- Correct removal of gloves - Reusable gloves (chemically resistant ... Use correct size and type of reusable glove and replace when necessary.
- Correct removal of gloves - Single use gloves (splash resistant) poster ; Use disposable gloves correctly and remove carefully.
Find out more
Detailed guidance on the law is contained in:
The following background research report recommends the use of nitrile (0.4mm thickness) gloves for general use in lithographic printing.
Further Background research reports exist
- The prevalence of occupational dermatitis amongst printers in the midlands
- Derivation of baseline data for incidence of skin disease amongst printers.
- The development of risk reduction strategies for the prevention of dermatitis 
- Use of chemical protective gloves to control dermal exposure in the UV lithographic printing sub-sector: RR525