Skin disorders a major hazard for workers

Minnesota workers may be interested to learn that skin disorders are considered to be the second most common type of work-related illnesses. In fact, it is estimated that approximately 13 million people are potentially exposed to occupational skin disorders caused by chemical exposure.

Some of the most common skin disorders suffered by workers include allergic contact dermatitis, irritant contact dermatitis and skin cancer. The causes of the skin disorders can vary from physical agents, such as radiation or temperatures, to chemical agents, such as exposure to certain chemical reactions. Other causes potentially include biological agents like parasites and animal materials. Cuts, friction and bruises suffered on the job can also lead to certain skin disorders.

It is estimated that contact dermatitis accounts for about 90 to 95 percent of all occupational skin disease cases in the United States. Of these, about 80 percent are thought to be caused by exposure to a hazardous agent. This exposure often results in skin damage and inflammation at the contact site. Allergic contact dermatitis, in which a worker is exposed to an allergen, can also cause a skin response. In addition, about 10 to 15 percent of workers are estimated to be allergic to some metals.

Although many job-related skin disorders are easy and quick to treat, there may be certain circumstances where contact with an allergen or hazardous substance could result in a serious injury. If a worker needs medical care for a skin injury, the employer may be responsible for paying the worker's medical costs. If the employer refuses to pay the medical bills associated with the skin disease, a workers' compensation attorney could appeal the decision or even litigate if the employer refuses to provide the benefits.

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