The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) included dermatologic disorders on its list of the top 10 work-related diseases and injuries in the United States;
- 10% - 15% of health hazard evaluations by NIOSH involve skin complaints.
- The economic impact of work-related dermatologic conditions is in the hundreds of millions of dollars per year.
- Dermatologic injuries from trauma or brief exposure to toxic agents constitute approximately 30% of all injuries.
- The most common injuries are due to lacerations, punctures, abrasions, and burns.
- 30% of occupational injury and 40% of occupational disease are dermatologic.
Contact dermatitis accounts for 90% of occupational skin disease, with the majority of cases being irritant. The clinical course for occupationally induced contact dermatitis is relatively poor:
- 25% have clearance of the dermatitis
- 50% have improvement but with periodic recurrence,
- 25% have persistent and severe dermatitis despite a change in jobs and therapeutic intervention.
The negative impact on the workplace and society results in:
- Lost worker productivity, medical care, and disability payments.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics 1984 Annual Survey:
- The highest number of occupational skin diseases occurred in the manufacturing sector
- The highest incidence was in the agricultural, forestry, and fishing industry.
In 1993 the Annual Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses reported an estimated rate of occupational dermatitis of 1.12/10,000 workers.
- The largest number of cases occurred in health services
- The highest rate was in agricultural crops.
- The occupation with the largest number of cases was non-construction laborers.
- Cleaning and polishing agents caused the largest number of cases.
Occupational skin disease has a guarded prognosis. Despite proper treatment, only 25% of patients have clearance of the dermatitis, even with a change in jobs.
Marks JG, Elsner P, DeLeo VA: Etiology of Occupational Skin Disease. Chapter in Contact and Occupational Dermatology Third Edition, Chapter 12, Mosby St. Louis, pp 303-313, 2002.
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