Skin exposure to chemicals is one of the biggest problems from an occupational safety perspective.
While most people believe that respiratory disorders are the most common occupational illness, the reality is that each year, more skin diseases are reported than any other illness. Skin injuries can disable or even permanently scar the worker.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), skin disorders are reported at a rate of 3.4 injuries per 10,000 workers. On the other hand, respiratory illnesses were reported at a rate of 1.9 per 10,000 workers, which is considerably lower than the rate of skin diseases. A wide variety of chemicals that cause these injuries are quickly absorbed into the skin, and cause immediate impact on health. Chemical exposure does not just cause skin problems, but if inhaled, absorbed, or ingested, it can cause other serious health issues as well.
There are a number of conditions that are considered occupational skin diseases, these include:
- Skin cancers
- Skin injuries
- Irritant contact dermatitis
- Allergic contact dermatitis
If you are a worker who has developed any of the above mentioned conditions due to workplace conditions, it is important that you inform your supervisor or employer of the injury.
Although OSHA published standards for the segments of the workers more likely to be exposed and suffer skin injuries, accidents can still happen in a broad range of industries. These include:
- Marine terminals
These are high risk industries because workers are more likely to be working near dangerous chemicals and other skin allergens.
How Work-Related Skin Injuries Occur
Workers in any industry can suffer from an occupational skin injury or disease. Some of the most common reasons for work related skin conditions include:
- Extremely hot or cold temperatures.
- Exposure to harmful chemicals.
- UV or solar radiation.
- Exposure to biological agents such as parasites.
- Scrapes, cuts, or bruises.
The work related accidents may have immediate effects, or the effect may occur over time. In some cases, it may take months of exposure for the worker to develop a particular skin disease.
Employers are responsible for educating all workers about appropriate safety protocols and taking measures to improve workplace safety. The workers working in and around hazardous chemicals should use proper safety gear and should be made aware of emergency procedures to follow in the event of an accident. If there is a chemical spill, or another accident in which the worker comes in contact with the chemical, the work can be exposed to dangerously high amounts of chemicals through skin quickly. With this high absorption rate, the worker might be at risk of developing serious short term and long term skin problems.
Speak with a St. Louis workers compensation attorney
If you have developed an occupational skin problem, you should be aware that you can claim workers compensation benefits. To know more about you rights, you should contact a competent St. Louis workers compensation lawyer. Call (314) 361-4300 for a free and private consultation.