Industrial or occupational dermatitis is a common work related disease and is caused by an individual being exposed to a hazardous substance in the workplace.

There are two types of contact dermatitis, irritant dermatitis and allergic dermatitis.

Irritant dermatitis

Irritant dermatitis can be caused by a physical or chemical substance that damages the cells in the skin, making it more vulnerable to other hazards such as bacteria and chemicals. Symptoms stop when there is no longer contact with the substance that was the cause of the irritation.

Common workplace substances that can result in irritant dermatitis include:

  • acids and alkalis
  • cement
  • cleaning products
  • fluids for metalworking
  • oils and greases
  • organic solvents
  • shampoos
  • soaps
  • plants/shrubs
  • water (if there is repeated and prolonged exposure)

Allergic dermatitis

Allergic dermatitis is caused by exposure to a sensitiser or an allergen. When an individual’s immune system reacts to a hazardous substance they become sensitised. Once an individual is sensitised they will usually have a life-long sensitivity and any further exposure to the hazardous substance will trigger an attack.

Allergens that can result in allergic dermatitis at work include:

  • cement
  • chromium
  • fragrances
  • latex (a common cause of allergic dermatitis, particularly in the healthcare industry)
  • nickel
  • resins

Duty of care

Employers are under a duty to identify hazardous substances in the workplace and look to substitute them, where possible. In the event that a substance cannot be substituted then the working processes, training, facilities and personal protective equipment (PPE) should be appropriate in order to prevent hazardous exposure.

Contact us

If you or a loved one have developed contact or allergic dermatitis due to the working environment and would like to speak with one of our Industrial Disease lawyers you can contact us on Freephone: 0808 164 0808 or complete the request a call back form and we will call you.