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Contact Dermatitis (also known as eczema) is inflammation of the skin that arises from contact with a range of materials. 

The main signs and symptoms are:

  • dryness; 
  • redness;
  • itching;
  • swelling;
  • flaking;
  • cracking;
  • and blistering of the skin, and it can be very painful.

All construction workers can be affected but those involved with road construction are at particular risk due to frequent contact with these harmful substances. 

Skin Contact
The ways in which skin comes into contact with chemical agents are direct contact with substances, splashes and touching contaminated surfaces (eg work surfaces, tools, coveralls and gloves). Also, airborne substances can deposit on the skin.

Your Legal Obligations

The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health [COSHH]Regulations require employers to identify the hazards associated with substances in the workplace, such as chemical agents, and assess the extent of likely exposure when these substances are used. Based on these assessments, they must then determine the lth risks. Once a judgement of the risks has been evaluated, controls to minimise these must be put in place. 

The law is clear. Until this has been done employees may not work with substanceshazardous to health.

The management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 describe what employers are required to do to manage health and safety. These regulations are important for substances like cosmetic products and wet working.

Employers must consult employees and their representatives on health and safety matters including when prevention of dermal exposure is not reasonably practicable. Employees must co-operate with the employer to meet the legal obligations.


Substances that cause most skin health problems
  • wet cement; 
  • epoxy resins or hardeners; 
  • acrylic sealants;
  • bitument or asphalt;
  • solvents used in paints, glues or other surface coatings;
  • petrol, disel, oils and greases;
  • degreasers, descalers and detergents. 
Free prevent work Dermatitis guidance

Work-related dermatitis (also known as eczema) can cause serious problems. Download this free guidance booklet to find out more. 

Case studies

HSE have a library of case studies and personal stories to help you keep on top of Dermatitis. 


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