Work-related dermatitis – The occupational illness of the dental industry

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Occupational illness is a hazard in many sectors, but new research has shown that work-related dermatitis is especially common amongst dentists and dental nurses.

Of the 8,400 cases of work-related dermatitis diagnosed every year, a high number are related to people working in the dental industry. The tell tale signs of itchy, red skin or blisters can be caused by excessive washing of the hands at work, exposure to dental chemicals like acrylics and resins or exposure to personal protective equipment (PPE) gloves, where the natural rubber latex or synthetic rubber can cause a reaction.

Frequent hand washing can also be a major cause of work-related dermatitis.

Employers are legally obliged to reduce the risk of occupational illness in any way possible, and the risk of contracting work-related dermatitis can be reduced in several ways. You may be able to use machinery or tools for cleaning equipment instead of your hands; you should ensure that your hands are thoroughly rinsed and dried after washing in cool water; and you should use emollient creams frequently.

Your employer should ensure that you are fully trained in how to use equipment and PPE and that you are shown how to properly cleanse your skin. There should be good hand washing and drying facilities available to you and emollient creams should be stored correctly to avoid cross contamination.

Your employer should at all times comply with CoSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health) regulations to reduce the risk of work-related dermatitis or any other occupational illness.

Of course, you don’t have to work in the dental industry to suffer from work-related dermatitis or any occupational illness, but if you feel that your employer is not complying with CoSHH regulations or if you have suffered occupational illness due to CoSHH hazards in your workplace, you may be entitled to claim compensation.

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