Work related contact dermatitis

On this page you will find information and advice on how to prevent your employees from developing work related contact dermatitis.

What you must do

You must assess the risk to your employees of developing contact related dermatitis.

Where there is a risk, you must provide adequate control measures, and also provide information, instruction and training

What you should know

Work-related contact dermatitis is a skin disease caused by work. It is often called eczema and develops when the skin's barrier layer is damaged. This leads to redness, itching, swelling, blistering, flaking and cracking. The most susceptible parts of the body are the hands, followed by the forearms and face. It can be severe enough to keep you off work or even force you to change jobs.

Contact dermatitis is one of the main causes of ill health for catering staff eg chefs, cooks and catering assistants. Work-related ill health can cost more than twice as much as an accident causing the injury.

You can prevent dermatitis developing with a few simple measures:

  • Ensure workers avoid contact with cleaning products, food and water where possible, eg provide utensils for handling food and where appropriate, use a dishwasher rather than washing up by hand.
  • Protect your employees' skin. Where necessary, provide gloves for those working with substances that can cause dermatitis and provide moisturiser for their hands to replenish the skin's natural oils.
  • Ensure they check their hands regularly for the early stages of dermatitis, ie itchy, dry or red skin. These symptoms should be reported to a supervisor, as treatment is much more effective if dermatitis is caught early.

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Updated 2024-06-04