Contact dermatitis is inflammation of the skin that can arise from contact with a range of materials. The main signs and symptoms are dryness, redness, itching, swelling, flaking, cracking and blistering, and it can be very painful.
There are two types of work-related contact dermatitis:
- Irritant contact dermatitis – usually caused by the skin coming into contact with an irritant substance. Anyone can be affected and the strength of the irritant together with the duration of exposure will affect the seriousness of the complaint;
- Allergic contact dermatitis – where a person develops an allergic reaction to a substance. The reaction may follow weeks, months or even years of use without any ill effects but once it has occurred, any future exposure to the substance will produce an adverse reaction.
In the construction industry, the substances that cause most skin health problems are:
- wet cement
- epoxy resins and hardeners
- acrylic sealants
- bitumen or asphalt
- solvents used in paints, glues or other surface coatings
- petrol, diesel, oils and greases
- degreasers, descalers and detergents
Cement is widely used in construction and anyone using it or who is responsible for someone else using it, should be aware that it presents a hazard to health
HSE information sheet about the health hazards of cement – http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/cis26.pdf
Preventing contact dermatitis at work– http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg233.pdf
HSE – Dermatitis
– What does dermatitis look like?