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
Schoolboy Designs Quiet Hand Dryer for Global Handwashing Day

A hand drying manufacturer has unveiled a new model inspired by the design of a 12-year old schoolboy. Zach Cosham, a budding engineer from Hove, approached Handy...

 Read Full Article
What Does the PM's COVID-19 Winter Plan Mean for Employers?

Prime Minister Boris Johnson recently laid out his COVID-19 winter response plan to the public, but how will it impact existing working policies? The winter...

 Read Full Article
Back Care Awareness Week – Risks to Home Workers

Most of us have probably been guilty of working in unusual places over the last eighteen months, but is your sofa desk contributing to your back pain? In 2019-20...

 Read Full Article
The Business Case for Safe and Sustainable Hydration

Previous safety concerns around reusing water bottles are being resolved and businesses should be returning focus to sustainable hydration in the workplace, says Mark...

 Read Full Article
Over 60s Account for 30% of Workplace Fatalities 

Annual workplace fatality figures from the Health and Safety Executive highlight the risks to older workers, with around 30 per cent of fatal injuries in...

 Read Full Article
Five Tips for Working in a Heatwave

As the UK enjoys a week of warm weather, Alex Minett, Head of Product & Markets at CHAS, shares some tips for working comfortably in a heatwave. Alex...

 Read Full Article