Dermatitis Prevention

Dermatitis is a common occupational disease in which the skin is inflamed. Dermatitis associated with plastics production can be caused by worker exposure to strong acids, alkalis, and chemicals commonly found in resins.

Types of Dermatitis

The two types of dermatitis most associated with occupational exposures are allergic contact dermatitis and irritant contact dermatitis.

Allergic contact dermatitis is caused by sensitizing agents, which produce an allergic reaction. Sensitizing agent exposure does not necessarily result in dermatitis upon initial contact. However, the skin may become altered, so after a period of time subsequent—often weeks or even years—contact with sensitizers will cause dermatitis. Examples of sensitizing agents are formaldehyde and isocyanates found in resins.

Irritant contact dermatitis is caused by a compound, typically a primary irritant, that acts directly on the skin at the contact site. Polyester resins—which are unsaturated, synthetic resins—are examples of primary irritation agents that cause dermatitis. Other primary irritants include strong acids, alkali, and solvents. The compound may act immediately if it is a strong acid or base. The compound may act over a slower period of time if it is a detergent.

People with contact dermatitis have itchy skin and a rash, often with cracks, redness, blisters, or raised bumps. In irritant contact dermatitis, the rash is confined to the area in contact with the irritating substance. Once the skin is compromised, very small exposures, which previously did not have any effect, can cause an episode of dermatitis.

Prevention Measures

Plastics manufacturing employers should take measures to try to prevent dermatitis from occurring by following a hierarchy of controls to prevent occupational dermatitis. Under this hierarchy of controls, employers

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