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Contact dermatitis (a type of eczema) is a skin condition which can occur when an individual comes into contact with certain substances. Often affecting the hands, sufferers may experience itchy, flaky, or blistering skin and these symptoms can sometimes be very painful.

Those who work in the catering industry are often at a higher risk of developing contact dermatitis than employees in other occupations. This could be because individuals such as chefs are regularly washing their hands and may also be exposed to a variety of cleaning products.

Moreover, allergic dermatitis may be associated with the catering profession as this condition can be caused by certain types of foods.

Dermatitis can have a number of adverse effects. Reportedly, 20% of individuals have taken time off work to recover from their hand eczema, while a small number of sufferers have had to resign due to the severity of their symptoms.

As dermatitis can be extremely painful, and may prevent individuals from working or completing their day-to-day activities, employers should implement appropriate measures to prevent their staff members from developing this condition.

Unfortunately, the findings of a survey suggest that many duty-holders fail to take dermatitis seriously. In 2011, The National Eczema Society revealed that eczema made up 80% of newly diagnosed skin problems at work – and these were caused by exposure to irritant substances.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) states employers must carry out risk assessments to identify situations where staff members could potentially develop contact dermatitis and then, where necessary, implement appropriate safety measures to minimise or eliminate the danger.

Fortunately, the HSE states that work-related contact dermatitis can be easily prevented by following the "APC" method. This involves:

  • Instructing employees to avoid direct contact with substances which can cause dermatitis. For example, chefs could be issued with gloves and stack plates inside a dishwasher instead of cleaning them by hand;
  • Making sure staff members protect their skin. Managers could ensure this by supplying suitable moisturisers or gloves; and
  • Carrying out adequate checks to spot instances of dermatitis and then ensure the condition is treated as soon as possible.

By following these three simple steps, employers may be able to prevent their staff members from suffering the often painful effects of dermatitis. However, if they fail to implement appropriate safety measures, those adversely affected may be entitled to claim compensation.

Claiming compensation for dermatitis

We could help individuals make dermatitis compensation claims for chefs, cooks, or other catering professionals. Moreover, following a successful case, sufferers could receive funds to recover any lost earnings or treatment fees which were caused by their conditions.

If you developed dermatitis due to a non-fault work-related activity, one of our specialist eczema solicitors may be able to help you receive damages. To find out if you could benefit from the services of Seth Lovis & Co, please contact us through an online enquiry form or by calling 0370 218 4025 today.

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