Occupational Dermatology Surveillance
Skin disorders can often be activated by the hazardous substances that are a necessary part of many difficult jobs such as nursing and industrial tank cleaning. In some instances an employee can experience an allergic reaction in a very short space of time while in others it can be a slow process that takes years. In view of the unavoidable contact with substances during the working day, the guide lines issued by the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) encourage employers to ensure their employees have access to a dermatology surveillance service. If identified in their early stages skin disorders can be treated far more easily and successfully. Advice can also be given on how to prevent irritation to the skin.
One of the most common skin complaints amongst employees that occurs as a direct result of being in close proximity to mildly irritating substances is contact dermatitis. It is estimated that up to a fifth of employees will develop this irritating skin condition at some stage of their careers. The symptoms include inflamed and itchy skin that is dry and cracked but can also ooze and bleed. This can lead to a leave of absence from work resulting in a loss of productivity and earnings. Avoiding irritants in the first place can be achieved in some instances by wearing gloves which can help any employees with sensitive skin. However, operating machinery which uses potentially irritating oil lubricants for cutting and grinding isn’t suitable for glove wearing. By attending for regular dermatology surveillance tests the susceptibility for contact dermatitis can be detected and treated in its early stages with the use of appropriate skin creams.
Employees working in factories are regularly exposed to hazardous substances that are known to be particularly harmful. Anyone working with heavily industrialised procedures such as chromium plating are particularly at risk. Wearing gloves as a precautionary measure is highly effective for a variety of occupations such as cleaning, paint spraying, hairdressing and printing. However even wearing gloves can cause problems for some people particularly for anyone who reacts to substances such as latex rubber which many gloves are made of. A build-up of condensation can occur inside the gloves leading to itchy irritated skin particularly amongst employees who may have a susceptible sensitive skin.
Monitoring and Surveillance
Other skin problems include urticaria which results in small raised blisters that resemble the rash that occurs when having been in contact with stinging nettles. Caring properly for the skin requires a regular daily routine of applying a barrier cream and using a rich moisturiser during the night when it can sink into the upper layers of the skin. Taking care during the day to minimise the amount of time hands seem to be constantly damp can be avoided by wearing gloves. Having regular check-ups through an occupational health screening service such as Health Screen UK will help to identify skin problems before they become an irritation.