A toolbox talk on dermatitis in catering - speakers notes

Background information and instructions for PowerPoint presentation

The background

Dermatitis is one of the main causes of ill health in the catering industry. Almost all workers in wet-working jobs develop some degree of dermatitis.

Catering is a profession that involves wet working. As guidance, 'wet work' describes prolonged or frequent skin contact with water, (eg water/chemical mixtures, wet food) usually for two or more hours a day or more than 20 hand washes. Wet-work tasks include washing up, washing food, general cleaning, or frequent hand washing.

This talk provides a short introductory or awareness-raising session on dermatitis. It explains what dermatitis is, the risk of getting dermatitis through working in catering and how to prevent it. It should take about 15 minutes to present.

The talk is designed to be delivered within the workplace as part of a training session, team meeting or induction for new starters.

The talk can be delivered by a safety representative, supervisor, head chef or manager.

Instructions for giving the talk

  • The PowerPoint slides are provided with 'What to say' notes to provide you with the script for your presentation.
  • The slides also have further background notes containing additional information, which you may also want to use.
  • The PowerPoint file also includes useful background information for each slide to help when making the presentation.
  • Add your own notes to make the talk specific to your place of work. Use any local examples of good practice.
  • Explain why awareness of dermatitis is important, for example it is easy to treat when spotted early.
  • Encourage staff to ask questions and if you have any difficulties seek further advice from your manager, head chef, local Environmental Health Officer (EHO) or HSE inspector.
  • Encourage discussion and agree some actions as a result of the talk.
  • Consider building on the information given in the talk by gathering further information from your manager or head chef or local EHO.
  • Follow up points that have been raised after the talk has been given, eg a further session on types of gloves used, safe use of cleaning products etc.
  • Consider issuing a reminder card with the key points on it.

Before you start

Training is only part of managing the risks of dermatitis. All employers should have procedures in place to make sure that the risks from dermatitis are properly controlled. This includes assessing the risk from dermatitis within your own workplace and introducing appropriate controls. Further information is available on the HSE skin at work website.

Using the talk

Not all the images or examples used in the talk may be relevant to how you work. Where this is the case, use examples from your own workforce. There may also be some risks that apply at your workplace that aren't included in the talk. Before you use the talk, check its contents against your own risk assessment and add any information that you think is necessary.

The person who delivers the talk should:

  • be a good speaker;
  • be committed to what they say;
  • have a working knowledge of a catering environment; and
  • have made themselves familiar with the talk to help to answer any questions that are asked.

It is important that whoever delivers it is comfortable with the language used. Where they are not, it should be modified to suit their own style of delivery. This may include making provision for people who don't speak English as a first language.

It is also good practice to keep a record of who has heard the talk and when.

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Updated 2021-05-06