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:

  • platemaking;
  • 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:  

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

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Updated: 2023-08-07