Skin diseases accounted for around 2 per cent of total days sickness absence certified due to all occupational illnesses as reported in 2009-11 THOR GP Scheme survey. According to 2011/12 Labour Force Survey, an estimated 15,000 workers who had worked in the previous 12 months had skin problems which they believed were caused or made worse by their work. In 2011, 1,556 cases of occupational skin disease were reported by dermatologists and occupational physicians in Great Britain. 1,199 (77 per cent) of these reported cases were related to contact dermatitis, 126 (8 per cent) were other non-cancerous dermoses whilst the remainder 231 (15 per cent) were related to skin cancers.
During the last few years, the most common agents cited by dermatologists and occupational physicians as causes of skin disease were “soaps and cleaners”, “wet work”, and “rubber chemicals and materials”.
Work-related dermatitis is very common and affects people in many industries. These include:
The HSE’s Skin Disease Programme focuses on a small number of occupations that have the highest risk of dermatitis and/or account for the high numbers of cases each year. The HSE lists hazardous agents commonly encountered in these occupations. Florists and hairdressers have the highest rates of dermatitis. The HSE has a campaign specifically aimed at preventing dermatitis in hairdressers.
( ref. https://www.iosh.co.uk/Books-and-resources/Our-OH-toolkit/Skin-disorders.aspx)
Like many other occupations, the florist industry is fertile ground for work-related contact dermatitis. This is not surprising as a florist’s hands are subjected to a myriad of potential allergens daily. The hands are usually the first to suffer but any incidence of dermatitis can easily spread to the forearms and beyond. Thankfully, an easy to follow skin care routine can greatly reduce, or even alleviate, most cases of dermatitis.
The latest figures show that some 29,000 new cases of occupational dermatitis occur each year in the United Kingdom. Within this total, the florist industry is the sector that has the greatest number of reported pro rata new cases. Given their mode and conditions of working, it is not surprising that florists are at high risk.
So, what are the main causative factors of dermatitis in florists and the people who work in the floral sector?
Dermatitis, commonly referred to as eczema, results from exposure to skin irritants and allergens. It is also associated with wet work and incorrect skin hygiene routines. All of these factors are prevalent in the florist industry.
Skin irritants are universal. That is, known irritants normally produce a degree of adverse reaction in everyone. Allergens are different in that not everyone may react if exposed to them. In this case, the genetic makeup and personal situation of each individual may be a factor in the presence and extent of the allergy.
Skin irritants and allergens are a constant feature in any florist’s normal working day.
Common plants such as chrysanthemums, daffodils, dalias and primulas are all well known for causing dermatitis. Indeed, almost all plant varieties have the potential to cause an allergic reaction in susceptible people. Residues that are frequently found on cut flowers are another possible source of irritants and allergens. Soil, composting material, insecticides and pesticides can all be hazardous.
Once a person’s skin has been sensitised to any particular allergen, it will never cease to be sensitive. Indeed, the sensitivity is likely to spread to other parts of the body.
Occupational dermatitis is also frequently associated with “wet work”. Wet work is the term used when individuals are required to have their hands immerse in water for a total of two or more hours, or wash their hands more than 20 times during the working day. Additionally, occupations that required the frequently handling of damp cloths and materials may be classified as wet work.
Dry skin is often associated with dermatitis so the detrimental effects of wet work may seem illogical. However, constantly wetting and washing hands will lead to the outer layer of lipids on your skin being stripped away. These lipids provide vital protection to the epidermis, helping to retain moisture and keeping it supple. So, rather perversely, too much contact with water can result in a drying of the skin.
This brings us to our last point. An incorrect hygiene routine can exacerbate any skin condition. Using harsh soaps and cleansers, or scrubbing with brushes or using coarse towels are all likely to further damage the skin’s own natural protective qualities. In addition, perfume additives in soaps and other skin care products can be another potential source of allergens.
As a florist, you should know that there is a simple daily routine that you can adopt that will help relieve, or even eliminate altogether, occupational dermatitis and related skin problems.
As with any other health issue, if the onset of your dermatitis is sudden, or is extensive, or is accompanied by other symptoms, seek immediate advice from your doctor.
Garden Skin Care
Garden skin care should be part of every gardener’s daily routine. Chapped, sore and split skin is a painful condition needlessly suffered by many gardeners. However, it is also a condition that is easily combated by taking simple precautions.
A gardener with chapped and sore skin is a common occurrence. Split skin and rashes on the hands and fingers is both painful and unsightly. But, with the correct garden skin care routine, this is one gardening problem that is easily overcome.
Working in the garden is a pleasurable hobby for many green-fingered enthusiasts. However, often, those green fingers can be needlessly blighted with chapped and sore skin. The answer to this problem is to practice a simple garden skin care routine.
The nation’s gardening enthusiasts often overlook garden skin care. Whilst every care and attention is given to their plants, the gardener will sometimes neglect their own skin’s health and safety. The result can be dry and sore hands that are not only painful to work with but also carry a higher risk of infection.
The normal garden is full of hazards that can cause skin irritation and dermatitis.
The National Eczema Association recommends taking precautions before handling plants that are known to commonly induce an adverse skin reaction. Contact with the leaves, stem or roots of offending plants can cause anything from a mild skin irritation to a more serious inflammation.
Of course, everybody realises the inherent hazards of the stinging nettle and poison ivy. However, many people also suffer from contact with a variety of other plants that commonly adorn our gardens. Popular plants that are known to cause skin reactions include the juniper, marigold, poinsettia, tomato, strawberry, garlic, onion, chive, leek, wild parsnip and hyacinth.
Some plants even have the dubious distinction of having specific dermatitis conditions associated to them by name. For example, “tulip fingers” is a condition where the tulip born allergen tuliposideA causes split and cracked skin on the fingertips.
Plants are not the only source of skin irritation in the garden, though. The soil itself is often a source of dermatitis.
Ammonia occurs naturally in garden soil and can induce a skin reaction in some people. The situation can be exacerbated by the use of fertilizers and lawn treatment mixtures that often contain ammonia concentrates.
Even in the greenhouse, the gardener is not isolated from soil contact hazards. Perhaps surprisingly, potting compost is usually soil free typically containing peat moss, sand and composted bark. Perlite, an amorphous volcanic glass, is also often also used to aid hydration. Vermiculite and ground limestone are other common inclusions.
Whilst the compost components themselves are rarely a source of dermatitis, they do attract insects and bugs that can bite and induce skin rashes.
By employing sensible precautions, garden dermatitis problems can be minimized or alleviated altogether.
Wearing high grade gardening gloves can protect your hands and forearms. This is particularly important when working in a damp or wet garden. Lightweight surgical gloves are more suited for the delicate work in the potting shed.
Regular washing is also of vital importance. Of course, any cut or graze offers bacteria an open door passed the skin’s front line defences. But, even without any break, it is imperative to remove any allergens from the skin as quickly as possible.
Keeping your skin supple and healthy is another necessity. By regularly using a top quality moisturising and skin protection cream you will be aiding your body’s natural protective qualities.
Grease free, waterproof moisturising creams that allow your skin to breath are best suited to wear inside gloves. Many products are available, but whichever you choose, always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.
By following these simple guidelines, working in the garden will leave you with healthy looking hands as well as lovely looking flowerbeds and lawns.
Since the passage of the United States Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) in 1970, there have been extensive changes in United States workplaces that should have served to enhance the prevention of occupational skin disease (OSD). Analysis of skin diseases reported to OSHA (OSHA recordables) shows that the number of OSDs declined steadily from 1974 to 1983 to about half the previous annual incidence. After 1984, there was a modest resurgence peaking in 1994, with a subsequent decline. A similar but somewhat greater decline in the late 1990s has been observed for occupational respiratory diseases, diseases caused by toxic agents and for poisonings. Likely explanations for the trends in OSD are discussed; the initial decline probably reflected an improvement in workplace conditions, the later resurgence and decline may have been attributable to changes in recording behaviors and in worker’s compensation. The decline in recorded OSD since 1996 has been fairly uniform in most major industrial sectors but has been less marked in agriculture, forestry, and fishing so that this sector has replaced manufacturing in recording the highest incidence rate. In 1999, the incidence rate of recorded OSD was 0.49 per 1,000 workers, which appears to grossly under report the true incidence. OSD now constitutes about 10% of all occupational disease cases. Currently, there is increasing emphasis in corporate and occupational medicine on reducing costs and maintaining productivity as well as in preventing occupational injuries and diseases. This is shown by the trend for a greater proportion of workers with occupational conditions to return to modified duty positions rather than to be completely off work. Implications of this phenomena for management of OSD are discussed.
Copyright 2002, Elsevier Science (USA). All rights reserved.
11887102 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Ind Health. 2009 Jul;47(3):207-20.
Cold in- and outdoor work can result in different adverse effects on human health. Health problems decrease performance and work productivity and increase the occurrence of accidents and injuries. Serious health problems can also result in absence from work due to sick leave or hospitalization. At its worst, work in cold conditions could be associated with deaths due to cold-related accidents or a sudden health event. Musculoskeletal complaints, like pain, aches etc. are common in indoor cold work. Breathing cold air while working may lead to respiratory symptoms, which can decrease performance in cold. The symptoms are usually worsened by exercise and ageing, being more common in persons having a respiratory disease. Cardiovascular complaints and related performance decrements could be especially pronounced during work in cold weather and involving physical exercise, especially among those with an underlying cardiovascular disease. The article also reviews the current information related to diabetes, skin disorders and diseases, as well as cold injuries and accidents occurring in cold work. Increasing awareness and identifying workplace- and individual-related cold risks is the first step in proper cold risk management. Following this, the susceptible population groups need customized advice on proper prevention and protection in cold work.
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