The Leading News & Information Service For The Facilities, Workplace & Built Environment Community

PPE May Be Responsible for Dermatitis Increase

PPE May Be Responsible for Dermatitis Increase
11 February 2021
 

More than one in ten workers suffer from occupational dermatitis, potentially exacerbated by PPE being worn for long periods and hand sanitiser use.

UK PPE supplier Arco is raising awareness of the dangers of dermatitis in a nationwide campaign.

Dermatitis doesn’t just affect workers’ hands but can occur anywhere on the body, including the face as a result of wearing PPE for longer periods.

Occupational dermatitis can seriously affect the wellbeing, quality of life and performance of employees. Absence from work, reduced pay, lower morale and self-esteem and even an unintended change in career can result. 

Employers, meanwhile, run the risk of bad publicity, reduced productivity, rising costs due to sickness days, increased costs for training and recruitment and, in a worst-case scenario, potential compensation claims.

 

“Too often a lack of employee complaints means employers assume dermatitis is a minor risk. But the truth in the silence is workers can feel embarrassed, have a lack of understanding about the condition or fear they could lose their jobs."

 

–Darren Williamson

Product & Procurement Manager – Cleaning & Hygiene, Arco

 

Occupational Skin Conditions Cost UK 268,000 Working Days a Year

 

Occupational skin conditions cost Britain 268,000 working days a year. The most common type, occupational dermatitis, is an inflammation of the skin caused by external agents such as chemicals and hazardous substances, biological agents, sensitisers or allergens which change the natural balance of the skin or damage its structure.

With more than one in ten workers suffering from the disease, for a 250 strong company, that’s 25 members of staff. The average cost to treat an unreported hand health problem is £2,000. In addition, each reported case of dermatitis costs an employer £6,000 on average, excluding compensation, fines and legal fees. For 25 employees, this total cost equates to £200,000.  While the costs involved with increased claims and insurance are worrying, the highest costs are incurred from potential fines and Health & Safety Executive (HSE) fees for intervention. The HSE now charges £157 per hour to investigate an incident on-site and the average cost of a health and safety-related prosecution in 2018/19 was £150,000 per conviction.

Darren Williamson, Arco Product & Procurement Manager – Cleaning & Hygiene, said: “Too often a lack of employee complaints means employers assume dermatitis is a minor risk. But the truth in the silence is workers can feel embarrassed, have a lack of understanding about the condition or fear they could lose their jobs. Worse still, underreporting means existing statistics merely represent the tip of the iceberg. We must raise awareness of the help available before employees and employers end up paying the ultimate price.”

 

Next Steps for Employers

 

The HSE recommends the following course of action if occupational dermatitis is predicted to be a problem:

 

  • Find out if there is a problem – Do workers come into contact with agents which could cause dermatitis?
  • Monitor sickness absence due to skin problems (if there is one case, there may be more)
  • Investigate worker complaints and consult with safety representatives and employees
  • Can the cause of the problem be substituted for something better?
  • Can contact be prevented in other ways such as wearing gloves (but remember some people are sensitive to latex and rubber glove materials and may require cotton-lined gloves)
  • Consider providing an after-work moisturising cream to replace lost natural skin oils
  • Consider other measures, such as job rotation

 

Picture: a photograph of a person wearing a face mask

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 11 February 2021

Share



Related Articles

Occupational UV Exposure is a Growing Risk for Outdoor Workers

A survey of health and safety managers found that 76 per cent of UK health & safety professionals were unaware that one death and five new cases of skin...

 Read Full Article
Hard Hat Awareness Week – Workers Urged to Check Head Protection

Research shows that 20 per cent of all fatal and non-fatal injuries in the UK are head-related, yet head protection accounts for only three per cent of personal...

 Read Full Article
Footwear and Musculoskeletal Disorders – What are the Risks?

Musculoskeletal disorders affect one in four of us, and selecting the right safety footwear can significantly reduce the risk.  Simon Ash, UK Sales Manager at...

 Read Full Article
Face Mask Disposal Still a High Concern

Litter pickers across the UK are reporting a huge increase in the number of dumped contaminated disposable face masks being spotted during their patrols, as the number of...

 Read Full Article
Arco Opens New £2m Safety Training Centre

Safety products and services company Arco has launched its latest safety centre in Bracknell, Berkshire. Investing over £ 2 million in the project, and bringing...

 Read Full Article
BOHS Highlights Link Between Workplace Health and Sustainability Goals

Worker health protection standards directly relate to sustainable development goals, according to The British Occupational Hygiene Society and the Chartered Society for...

 Read Full Article
The Future of Washroom Technology – Q&A With Dr Salomé Giao | Dyson

Sustainability and hygiene are key considerations for businesses looking to keep their public washrooms clean and welcoming for users. Dr Salomé Giao, Lead...

 Read Full Article
HSE Campaigns to Alleviate Worker Injuries

Experts at the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) are warning construction workers are picking up injuries and conditions that can stop them working and leave them...

 Read Full Article
Compliance Fines after Electrician’s Injuries at B&M Warehouse

B&M and Daker have been fined after an electrician suffered serious burns to 15 per cent of his body when he was caught in an explosion at a warehouse in...

 Read Full Article
HSE Publishes Annual Workplace Fatality Figures

HSE reports show that 123 workers died in work-related accidents from April 2021 to March 2022. 2,544 deaths in 2020 were due to Mesothelioma, cancer that can be...

 Read Full Article