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Work Related Dermatitis

Work related dermatitis can be caused by exposure to chemical agents and wet work (hands repeatedly wet for long periods). Other agents can be biological (e.g. plants or bacteria), physical (e.g. vibration) and mechanical (e.g. abrasion). Hands are most at risk, but other parts of the body can be affected.

Check for redness or swelling, cracking of skin, blisters, flaking skin or itching hands. A medical diagnosis and confirmation of work related dermatitis will require an assessment by a medical professional. Many substances can penetrate the skin and are capable of causing diseases elsewhere in the body.

The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health [COSHH] Regulations require employers to identify the hazards associated with substances in the workplace and assess the extent of likely exposure when these substances are used. Based on these assessments, they must then determine the health risks and controls needed to minimise these. Until this has been done employees may not work with these substances.

Try to eliminate the use of hazardous substance (e.g. by using an alternate product/process), control the exposure by use of engineering controls, such as automated handling, complete enclosure of the process or local exhaust ventilation. Consider modifying the process to prevent or minimise contact with hands.


  • Immerse hands in chemicals or allow prolonged or repeated contact with water
  • Work so as to cause chemical splashes on the skin
  • Allow skin to come into contact with contaminated work-pieces, surfaces, tools, clothing etc.


  • Know the health risks associated with chemicals and products used
  • Use tools and methods which will prevent skin contact with hazardous substances
  • Use suitable protective gloves where necessary
  • Ensure that hands are washed and dried regularly, including before donning and removing protective gloves
  • Use pre and after-work creams to ensure good skin condition
  • Seek medical advice if you are concerned about the condition of your skinIf you want assistance with COSHH assessments or advice on work related dermatitis please get in touch.
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