Skin diseases in the workplace

| Mar 27, 2017 | Workers' Compensation |

Workers in certain Louisiana occupations should be aware that occupational skin disease is the second-most prevalent type of occupational disease a worker can develop. According to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, over 13 million workers in the United States who work in the construction, agriculture, cosmetology, auto repair and health care industries may be exposed to chemicals that can be absorbed through the skin.

Previous efforts to monitor hazardous chemicals in the workplace focused primarily on inhalation exposure. As a result, inhalation risks are addressed with well-developed prevention plans and techniques, while standardized methods for evaluating chemical-related skin exposure are deficient.

Workers should know that there are many forms of occupational skin diseases. They include cancers, injuries and infections of the skin; irritant contact dermatitis; allergic contact dermatitis and more. The one that workers report most frequently is eczema, or contact dermatitis, and its symptoms may include swelling, itchy and painful skin, redness and blisters.

Primary irritants and sensitizers are the main causes of occupational skin diseases and disorders. The repeated exposure to sensitizers may result in allergic reactions, while primary sensitizers use chemical reactions to harm an individual’s skin. Exposure to chemicals through the skin can take place by immersion, splashes, inhalation of aerosols or direct contact with a tainted surface.

Workers can take certain steps to regulate or prevent skin exposure to chemicals. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration suggests substituting a less harmful chemical in the place of a volatile one. Workers may also consider re-vamping their work processes to prevent immersion risks and splashes.

While workers’ compensation benefits are commonly associated with on-the-job injury accidents, they can be payable to victims of illnesses caused by workplace environmental factors as well. However, as the documentation needed to support a nexus might be complex, it could be advisable to have the assistance of an attorney when preparing a claim.