Can you Get Dermatitis From Working in a Factory?

Posted on: 7 mins read
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Deborah Krelle

Partner, Head of Industrial Disease

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Work-related dermatitis can occur when skin comes into contact with chemicals, glues, soaps, oils, detergents or other irritants. Perhaps most surprisingly, dermatitis can also occur from over-exposure to water.

Of course, factory workers fall into a category of workers who are at risk of coming into contact with irritants and developing dermatitis. Example of other at-risk jobs include hairdressers, cleaners, mechanics and engineers all of which come into regular contact with skin irritants.

Even doctors, nurses and other hospital workers can be at risk of developing dermatitis through exposure to latex in gloves and/or excessive washing of their hands.

If you suffer from work-related dermatitis, you may be entitled to compensation. For free legal advice, get in touch with our Industrial Disease Solicitors. We may be able to deal with your claim on a No Win, No Fee basis - ask us for details.

a close up of hands using antibacterial hand wash

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To find out more about how we can help following an industrial disease diagnosis, get in touch with our friendly and experienced team.

How Should My Employer Be Protecting Me?

Under the COSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health) Regulations and PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) Regulations, an employer has an obligation to:

  • regularly review chemicals being used - any chemicals that workers may be exposed to must be replaced with less harmful chemicals if there is an alternative.
  • reasonably control exposure to chemicals through personal protective equipment – this includes gloves and masks – and adequate washing facilities. Employers must maintain and enforce the use of protective equipment and clothing.
  • prevent employees from being exposed to chemicals wherever possible.
  • undertake health screening and surveillance of workers/employees.
  • provide training, instruction and information on appropriate precautions and actions to protect workers.

The onus is on the employer to ensure that the risks of exposure to irritants in the factory environment are minimised. Employers have a duty of care to ensure that, when a worker or employee comes into contact with chemical irritants, adequate protection is given.

An employer must also provide warnings relating to the risks of handling any chemicals. Further to this, they must also ensure that the chemicals used are regularly reviewed in order to reduce the risk.

What PPE Does My Employer Need to Provide?

All employers are responsible for providing their employees with the appropriate PPE for the job role. Types of PPE may include:

  • Protective gloves
  • Protective outer clothing
  • Protective footwear
  • Respiratory protection
  • Eye protection

Your employer has the responsibility to make sure that all PPE is suitable for what it’ll be used for and that it properly fits the individual using it. They must question the supplier to make sure that it is suitable for the job conditions and what training is required for the user to wear it correctly.

As an employee, you must be given advice on how to correctly wear and use the PPE. For instance, you should be able to know if it fits correctly and whether it will interfere with your job.

washing up wearing gloves

How to Prevent Dermatitis

Work-related dermatitis can sometimes be severe and can result in you needing to take time off work. Depending on your situation, it may also require you to switch jobs altogether if contact with the offending irritant cannot be eliminated from the job.

While your employer has responsibilities to look after you, there are also some things that you can do to reduce the chances of you developing dermatitis.

You should avoid using cleaning products with unprotected hands. For example, you should wear gloves where possible and use a dishwasher instead of washing dishes by hand. This will stop you from using cleaning products excessively.

While you are at work, you should use moisturiser that helps to replenish your skin’s natural oils. Keep an eye on your hands regularly for any signs of dermatitis. If you notice any early signs of dermatitis such as itchy skin, dry skin, or red skin, you should report this immediately. If you manage to catch dermatitis early, it is much easier to treat.

What are the Symptoms of Dermatitis?

Symptoms of dermatitis include redness, dryness, itching, and the skin feeling coarse or cracked. Cracked hands can lead to bleeding, further sores, and skin infections. Dermatitis can affect any part of the body, including the face, but it mostly affects the hands.

Dermatitis can be both irritating and painful. When present on the hands, it can result in difficulty undertaking everyday tasks. If dermatitis is on visible areas, such as the hands or face, it can also have a psychological impact on the sufferer, making them self-conscious and depressed. Relieving the symptoms can take anywhere from a couple of weeks or months, or it can be a condition that repeatedly flares up throughout your lifetime.

What Financial Support Could I Be Entitled To?

Dermatitis is an Industrial Disease as prescribed by the Department of Work and Pensions. This means that anyone who is suffering from a work-related dermatitis could be entitled to Industrial Disease Disablement Benefit.

It is important to note that any benefits claimed will be deducted from the overall value of your claim if you decide to take legal action. However, if you’ve already suffered financial setbacks because of your condition, we would still advise applying for these benefits.

Our specialist Industrial Disease Solicitors will be able to help and advise you further.

How Much Compensation Could I Get?

As with any claim, the amount of compensation you receive for developing dermatitis at work will depend on a number of factors, including:

  • Financial losses – you may need to take time off work because of your condition or consider taking a lower paid job elsewhere if you’re no longer able to carry out your current role.
  • How much support and rehabilitation you need – for some, ongoing and regular treatment may be needed to manage the dermatitis.
  • Pain and suffering – chronic dermatitis can be painful and the level of suffering you’ve gone through will be considered when valuing your claim.

When you instruct us, we’ll offer you a free claims assessment where we’ll listen to the details of your situation and let you know if we think you have a strong claim for compensation.

Can My Employer Dismiss Me?

Your employer is not legally allowed to dismiss you as a result of you opening a claim for compensation. It’s likely that your employer has insurance to cover claims by employees as a result of their negligence, which is where your compensation will be paid from.

If your employer wishes to dismiss you, they must have a valid reason for this, and it must not be relative to your claim. If you are worried about your employer potentially dismissing you after opening a claim, we can offer some legal advice on where you stand.

Is There a Time Limit on When I Can Make a Claim?

You will generally have three years from when you were first diagnosed or started experiencing symptoms to make a claim.

If your dermatitis is as a result of lack of safety measures at work, but you weren’t aware that your condition was induced because of this, you may be able to open a claim after the 3 years period. But as soon as you learned that your dermatitis was your employer’s fault, you will have 3 years from your ‘date of knowledge’ to open a claim.

Our Industrial Disease Solicitors are experts and will fill out all the necessary paperwork on your behalf to ensure that all the relevant deadlines are met. If you’re not sure whether or not you are too late to open a claim, we can also advise you on this. Get in touch today to see if we could help you on a No Win, No Fee basis.

Am I Eligible for a No Win, No Fee Claim?

If you’re concerned with the costs of your claim, we may be able to help by dealing with your case on a No Win, No Fee basis. This agreement will allow you to focus on the claim without the worry about paying fees upfront.

You’ll only have to pay legal fees if your case is successful, otherwise you won’t need to pay a penny.

If you’re interested in a No Win, No Fee agreement, ask us for more details. If we think that this is the best way forward for you, we’ll explain exactly how it all works so you know what to expect.

How Simpson Millar Can Help You

If you have developed dermatitis as a result of your job, you may be entitled to open a claim for compensation. Contact us today to discuss your circumstances and we’ll offer some legal advice.

If we think that you have a strong case for compensation, we’ll discuss the best options for moving forward and opening a claim.

We’ll provide you with information on the claims process and timeline, so you know exactly what to expect throughout. We will only ever communicate with you in plain English, as we understand that complicated legal jargon can be difficult to interpret.

Our Industrial Disease Solicitors are fully accredited with years of experience working with clients just like you. We’ve helped many clients win similar cases, securing the best outcome possible that they’re happy with.

Get in touch today for your free claims assessment.


HSE (2023). Personal protective equipment (PPE) - COSHH. [online] Available at: (n.d.). Work-related contact dermatitis - health and safety topics in cleaning. [online] Available at:

Deborah Krelle

Partner, Head of Industrial Disease

Areas of Expertise:
Industrial Disease

As Head of Industrial Disease, Deborah’s role is to supervise, train and motivate her team to help clients with the Industrial Disease Claims process. She is also responsible for bringing new work into the department and building sound relationships with all clients.

Deborah is a Solicitor with considerable experience in dealing with work related illnesses and diseases, including Asbestos, Vibration White Finger, Occupational AsthmaHearing Loss and Dermatitis.

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