In 2002 the Health & Safety Executive estimated that there were 34,000 people in the UK suffering from skin problems caused by work.
As part of the health surveillance services we offer across the UK, we can provide skin assessment in the workplace as part of an overall occupational dermatitis health surveillance programme.
All industries can be affected, the commonest being:
Work-related skin problems are a very common occurrence, they can happen in most workplaces although they are more prevalent in certain high-risk jobs. They can be very costly, not just through the suffering individuals experience but to the employer as well. This is why skin assessment in the workplace can be an excellent strategy.
Work-related skin problems are caused or made worse by exposure to or coming into contact with substances such as chemicals, and also by having wet hands for long periods while at work. The commonest sites are the hands and forearms and the severity can range from minor irritation to severe disabling painful conditions of the hands that prevent work and everyday activity. Sadly, without early detection of the problem, the skin can be affected for many years even after ceasing employment. The commonest problem is dermatitis, either irritant or allergic.
Employers have a duty to assess the risk of skin problems developing in their workplace, putting controls in place to prevent problems, and arranging health surveillance if the risk cannot be eliminated. If you have staff who need to wash their hands regularly, need gloves to protect their hands, handle soaps, detergents or are in contact with chemicals, then you almost certainly should be providing regular health surveillance.
We undertake health surveillance using a questionnaire and skin examinations, looking predominantly at the hands and arms of your employees. This will identify any areas of concern relating to possible skin exposure and helps you meet your legal requirements under Regulations and assist in good skin health.