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Skin Conditions / Work-Related Dermatitis

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What is Dermatitis?

  • Dermatitis is an inflammation of the skin.
  • A type of eczema.
  • Eczema is a group name for conditions that cause the skin to become dry and irritated.

What are the Symptoms?

The skin will become red, swollen and sore. Sometimes with small blisters, resulting from direct irritation of the skin. Diagnosis of allergic contact dermatitis can often be supported by patch testing. The reaction will usually appear shortly after exposure to the irritant.

The most common areas to be affected by contact dermatitis are the hands and face.




What Commonly Causes Dermatitis?

Workers who are exposed daily to the following substances/produce during the course of their employment are more likely to develop contact dermatitis:

Water, Soaps and Detergents 

  • Prolonged contact accounts for around 55% of dermatitis cases.


Many dermatitis claims originate from contact with food. A wide variety of foods have been shown to cause dermatitis, including:

  • Sugar.
  • Flour/dough.
  • Fruits (especially citrus fruits).
  • Vegetables.
  • Spices.
  • Fish.
  • Meats.

 What is the Duty of My Employer to Protect Me From Developing Dermatitis?

Under the 1974 Health and Safety at Work act, every employer has a duty – so far as is reasonably practicable – to ensure the safety and welfare of their employees.

Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999:

  • Duty to undertake a reasonable risk assessment (Reg. 3).
  • Requirement to undertake a health surveillance (Reg. 6).

Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992:

  • Ensure that suitable personal protective equipment is provided (Reg. 4).
  • Ensure an assessment of any personal protective equipment is undertaken to determine whether it is suitable.

Control Of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) 2002:

  • Required to assess health risk where work is liable to expose employees to substances hazardous to health (Reg. 6).
  • Ensure exposure to substances hazardous to health is either prevented – or where not reasonably practicable – adequately controlled (Reg. 7).
  • Ensure any employee exposed to substances hazardous to health is monitored and under suitable health surveillance (Reg. 11).

Ways exposure can be adequately controlled:

  • Provide adequate control measures and ensure the use and maintenance of these.
  • Provide information, instructions and training.

What is the APC method?

The APC method (Avoid, Protect, Check) approach to control risks:

  • Avoid contact with materials where possible that could cause dermatitis.
  • Protect the skin.
  • Check for early signs of dermatitis.

How Can You Reasonably Avoid Contact?

  • Substitute an irritant with a different material.
  • Enclose the process as much as possible.
  • Use mechanical assistance.
  • Keep a safe working distance.

If the above can not be done or do not totally avoid contact, the following should be done:

  • Provide appropriate protective clothing (i.e. gloves).
  • Make sure the protective clothing is appropriately stored.
  • Ensure all irritants are washed from hands as soon as possible after contact.
  • Supply moisturisers, pre and post work.

How Do I Make a Claim?

If you have read the above and feel that you may have contracted dermatitis as a direct consequence of work exposure, call us to speak to our dedicated Industrial Disease team. We can give you free advice on whether you are eligible to make a claim.

In order to run the majority of Personal Injury claims, you have to start a claim within three years of the injury. The question of when the clock started ticking for such a case will need to be discussed in detail with a legal adviser. We will be able to discuss this with you in detail.

We are of the belief that it is better to get peace of mind by checking to see if you have a claim, rather than letting the time run out and never knowing.

For Occupational Dermatitis claims, the three-year limitation will start ticking when the Court finds that you linked (or when you should have linked) the condition with your employment. We would strongly recommend that legal advice is taken on this, as for each case, the limitation question will be decided on the merits of the claim.



If you believe you have developed Dermatitis as a direct consequence of exposure from work, Oakwood Solicitors can help. We have a dedicated team of solicitors and advisors who will be able to discuss the merits of your claim via a no-obligation discussion.

Will I Lose My Job If I Make a Claim?

If you are still working for the Defendant, they can not dismiss you for making or proposing to make a claim. If your employer attempts to do so, you are likely able to make a successful claim for unfair dismissal.

The majority of employers understand their duties owed to their employees and the right you have to pursue a claim if this duty has been breached. In the high majority of matters, the claim will normally be transferred to the Defendants’ insurers to deal with and on a day-to-day basis.

How Long Will My Case Take?

The length of time for a case can vary, and can strongly depend on how the Defendants want to conduct their Defence. Depending on whether liability is disputed or accepted, claims can take anywhere from nine months to two years to complete.

Why use Oakwood Solicitors to Run My Dermatitis Claim?

We have an experienced and dedicated Industrial Disease team. They are able to identify whether a claim is likely to be viable at an early stage and give advice accordingly. The team works with an extensive network of dermatologists, having dealt with a number of claims in all areas of Industrial Disease and achieved success.

How Would My Case Be Funded?

Our cases are brought on a ‘No-Win, No-Fee’ basis. If we accept your claim, as long as terms of the agreement are complied with by yourself – namely that you do not mislead and you co-operate – there will be no charge to you in the event the case fails. If the case succeeds, there will be a deduction to be made from the damages.


If you believe your Dermatitis stems from your employment, get in touch today for a free initial consultation in complete confidence. Choose one of the methods on the right-hand side of this page, or call us on 0113 200 9787 to find out how we can help you.

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Meet the Head of Department

Tim Fieldhouse

Solicitor and Head of Industrial Disease

0113 200 9765

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