Can you Get Dermatitis from Working in a Factory?

Deborah Krelle
Deborah Krelle
Partner, Head of Industrial Disease

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

Of course, factory workers fall into the category of workers who are most at risk of coming into contact with irritants and developing dermatitis. Other at risk jobs include hairdressers, cleaners, mechanics, builders and kitchen workers.

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.

Call us on 0808 239 3227 or request a callback

The Regulations

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 a less harmful chemicals if there is an alternative
    • Reasonably control an employee’s exposure to chemicals through personal protective equipment, such as masks and gloves. They must maintain and enforce the use of protective equipment and clothing
    • When able, prevent their workers’ exposure to chemicals
    • Regularly review and monitor exposure to chemicals and substances
    • Undertake health screening and surveillance of workers/employees
    • Provide training, instruction, and information on appropriate precautions and actions to protect their workers.

The causes of dermatitis will be prevalent in a factory, so the onus is on the employer to ensure that the risks of exposure are minimised. Employers have a duty to ensure that, when a worker or employee comes into contact with these chemicals, adequate protection is given, such as masks and gloves.

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

What are the Symptoms of Dermatitis?

Symptoms for dermatitis include redness, dryness, itching, and the skin feeling coarse or cracked. Cracked hands can lead to bleeding, further sores, and skin infections. It 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 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 in which flare ups span over an entire lifetime.

Dermatitis is also an Industrial Disease as prescribed by the Department of Work and Pensions. This means a sufferer could be entitled to Industrial Disease Disablement Benefit. A form can be downloaded from the website.

Benefits claimed will be deducted from the overall value of the claim. However, if the sufferer of dermatitis has already suffered financial setbacks because of their condition, it would be worth applying for these benefits before a sufferer begins a claim. A specialist Industrial Disease Solicitor will be able to advise their client and assist with this process.

Dermatitis has the potential to be a debilitating condition for which time off work might be needed, as well as constant and regular treatment. Chronic dermatitis is painful and could potentially affect the symptom bearer’s job prospects. Therefore, the amount compensation claimable for dermatitis can vary. It will depend of the severity of symptoms and the effect that the condition has had on the symptom bearer’s life.

If a sufferer of this type of dermatitis wants to make a claim, they should do so within 3 years of experiencing symptoms or being diagnosed. An employer has a legal and moral obligation to ensure that the health and safety of their workers is safeguarded. Should an employer breach this obligation, it’s in their own interests, as well as the claimant’s interests, that they deal with the situation.

The risks and regulations are widely known. An employer who allows their employees or workers to contract dermatitis through work has no excuse.

For free legal advice call our Industrial Disease Solicitors

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