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Facts about workplace skin diseases

One of the most common workplace ailments that affects employees in New Jersey and across the United States are skin diseases. In fact, more than 13 million employees in the United States work with harmful chemicals that could become absorbed into their skin, according to estimates by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Food service employees, cosmetologists, auto repair mechanics and health care professionals are some of those employees who face the greatest risk of contracting an occupational skin disease.

Whenever a dangerous substance comes in contact with an employee's skin, the employee is in danger of suffering an occupational disorder or disease, according to NIOSH. While there are effective strategies and ways to prevent inhalation risks of harmful chemicals, there are no standardized methods to deal with assessing and measuring the dangers of chemical-related skin exposure.

Some of the types of occupational skin diseases include infections and injuries, allergic contact dermatitis, irritant contact dermatitis and skin cancers. The most common occupation skin disease reported is contact dermatitis, also called eczema, and its symptoms include swelling, blisters, painful and itchy skin, and redness. People can get occupational skin diseases and disorders via primary irritants that directly act on their skin through chemical reactions or through repeated exposure from sensitizers, which results in allergic reactions.

Employees can decrease the risk of dermal exposure by using substances that are not as dangerous, using personal protection such as an apron and chemical-protective gloves, and keeping work areas clean and free from accumulated skin toxic contaminants.

All types of work sites should be safe and free from hazards that could result in harm, especially those where toxic chemicals are used. Workers' compensation benefits are also available to eligible employees who have contracted an occupational disease, and an attorney can often be of assistance in the preparation and filing of the claim.

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