Galanti Law Office, P.C.
Free Consultation
Spanish Interpreters Available

Occupational skin diseases in the workplace

As some Illinois workers may know, occupational skin disease is a leading cause of injury in the workplace. It is caused by worker exposure to chemicals, solvents, pesticides, plants and animals. This type of disease potentially affects 13 million workers across various industries but is most common in agricultural workers, hairdressers, painters, printers, cleaners, mechanics and construction workers. OSD may involve contact exposure with or without systemic toxicity. The effects of OSD range from localized irritation to serious systemic effects.

The skin is the body's largest organ and provides a protective barrier. Exposure to certain substances without shielding the skin may result in injury such as irritant or allergic contact dermatitis. Symptoms related to the two types of OSD are similar, and diagnosis is based on skin tests and the nature of the substance believed to cause the reaction. Contact dermatitis is differentiated as being either a non-immunologic response to an irritant substance or an immune-mediated reaction that is considered allergy related. Irritant contact dermatitis may be caused by tar, detergents, acids or bases, and oxidizing agents. Allergic reactions may be caused by pesticides, epoxy or acrylics and chemical compounds.

Systemic toxicity due to this type of a workplace injury occurs when the offending agents are absorbed through the skin and transported to other parts of the body. The toxicity level is directly related to the concentration, length of exposure and the nature of the substance. Absorption occurs by several modalities including lipid-mediated intercellular transmission and directly from cell to cell by permeation.

Protecting the skin is an important way to prevent OSD. Employers are expected to provide protective clothing or shields. A worker who is injured by contact with substances on the job may be eligible for workers' compensation. An attorney may provide guidance in filing and help the worker obtain the proper benefits.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Skin Exposures & Effects", December 28, 2014

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information