With more than 13 million employees around the country who are potentially exposed to skin-damaging chemicals in the workplace, skin diseases and disorders pose serious health threats. In fact, skin disorders among members of the military was found to be a top prevalent work-related condition requiring treatment, and skin diseases rate as the second most prevalent type of workplace illnesses, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.
The industries most at risk for skin diseases and disorders are construction, cosmetology and health care. Employees who face these risks can avoid them by undergoing training and hazard assessment. Some of the risks are skin cancer, allergic contact dermatitis, irritant contact dermatitis, and injuries and infections. Factors that can cause skin diseases are cuts, bruises, friction, radiation, and animal materials, plants and parasites. Employees can become exposed to the condition through inhalation, contact with contaminated surfaces, immersion or splashes.
Contact dermatitis accounts for the vast majority of workplace skin disease cases in the US, and the hand is the most commonly affected area, according to a research physical scientist with NIOSH. Allergic and irritant are the two main forms of contact dermatitis. Employees are exposed to allergic dermatitis via allergens, which then triggers an immunological reaction that inflames skin with repeated exposures. Irritant dermatitis, which is the most common type of work-related contact dermatitis, occurs with exposure to hazardous agents that inflame and damage the skin after contact.
People who contract a workplace illness such as a skin disorder through exposure to harmful chemicals or toxins have the right to file for workers’ compensation benefits that could include the payment of medical bills. An attorney can often assist with the preparation and filing of the required claim.
Source:Safety and Health, “Understanding occupational skin disorders”, Sarah Trotto, May 28, 2017