The report issued by the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work analyses EU policies and practices.
Skin diseases represent 13.6% of all occupational illnesses in Europe and are one of the most important emerging risks related to the exposure to chemical, physical and biological substances. Frequency and seriousness depend very much on the country, sector of activity and type of profession. Forty per cent of all cases were registered in the manufacturing sector, followed by construction with 12.5% and health and social work with 10.7% respectively.
Although the Member States have implemented central EU directives regarding the skin contact to dangerous substances, no standard dermal exposure limits have been established at EU level yet. Skin diseases rank highly in incidence lists, but only some countries indicate that assessing and preventing them is a priority. Consequently, there is a clear need for effective evaluation and registration standards, but also a common European framework of criteria for occupational diseases.
Effective prevention of skin diseases requires a combination of technical, organisational and medical measures to eliminate or minimise the skin’s exposure to risk factors. Employers need to take on the responsibility and identify possible danger at each workstation and make employees actively aware of the physical, biological or chemical risks.