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Campaign will fight workplace dermatitis

24 September 2009

The British Safety Industry Federatiopn and HSE are launching a campaign to prevent and identify the incidence of skin problems arising from work activities.

Thousands of people suffer from work-related dermatitis every year. According to the Labour Force Survey, in 2007/08 an estimated 20,000 individuals who worked in the last 12 months suffered ‘skin problems’ which they believed to be work-related. The British Safety Industry Federation (BSIF) estimates that a realistic occupational figure is between 160,000 and a quarter of a million new sufferers every year.

Work-related dermatitis remains a very real issue for businesses across the UK, affecting any workplace where irritant and allernagenic materials are being handled, from engineering and automotive, through to food, construction and hairdressing sectors. Yet it is a workplace hazard that with consideration, provision of the right personal protective equipment (PPE) and training, is easily prevented.

With manufacturers of hand protection and skin protectants as members, the BSIF has been keen to raise awareness of the problem. This led to the launch of phase 1 of the "It's in your Hands" campaign in conjunction with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), to raise awareness of work related dermatitis.

The cornerstone of phase 2 of the campaign is the Avoid, Protect and Check (APC) approach This involves: avoiding direct contact between unprotected hands and substances, products and wet work where this is sensible and practical; protecting the skin in those situations where avoiding contact is not possible or practical; checking hands and other at risk skin areas regularly for the first signs of itchy, dry or red skin.

The campaign is designed to embrace any supply, training or employer company to generate greater awareness of work-related dermatitis. With some 500 organisations participating in the campaign to date, the objective is to reduce the incidence of occupational dermatitis by 10 percent by the end of 2010.

Liz Bowley, Technical Director of Deb Ltd and Chair of the BSIF "It's in your Hands" working group outlines the significance: "The campaign has provided the opportunity for the BSIF and other organisations representing various aspects of the workplace, to work together with the HSE for the first time. The outcome has been that the message and advice is both consistent and amplified and widely distributed, maximising its potential for positive impact in almost all areas of employment."

For further information on workplace dermatitis please visit or telephone the BSIF on 01745 585 600.

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