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Which employees are most at risk for occupational skin diseases?

On Behalf of | Mar 31, 2020 | Workers' Compensation

A study that was published in 2017 in the National Safety Council’s (NSC) Safety Health magazine captured how at least 13 million workers here in Pennsylvania and elsewhere throughout the United States experience potentially harmful chemical-to-skin exposure each year. There are trends as to which type of employees are most vulnerable to developing an occupational skin disease as a result.

NSC’s data shows that workers in the agricultural, construction, cosmetology, food service, health care and auto repair sectors are the ones that are most at risk for developing some type of occupational skin disease.

Contact dermatitis, which is more commonly known as eczema, is described as the most common occupational skin disease by the NSC. Common symptoms that workers who are afflicted with this condition experience include swelling, itchy skin, redness and blisters.

Most workers who suffer from this disease experience an onset of their condition after their skin comes into contact with sensitizers or primary irritants.

A worker may develop an allergic reaction to some kind of substance after having been repeatedly exposed to it. This is what happens when that individual is exposed to a sensitizer.

Primary irritants, however, are more akin to chemical reactions. A worker generally needs to have some type of direct application or exposure of a chemical to their skin to experience an adverse reaction to a primary irritant.

Contact dermatitis and other work-related skin diseases are quite common, which is why The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommend that all employers provide their workers with personal protective equipment. Employers should also find ways to minimize an employee’s splash risk and consider switching their chemical use to something less abrasive.

It’s not uncommon for employers here in Dauphin and elsewhere in Pennsylvania to ignore these recommendations. A workers’ compensation attorney can assist you in filing an injury claim against your employer if you develop an occupational skin disease.


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