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What are my employer's responsibilities?

Under the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations, an employer has a duty to protect its workers from exposure. This means it must assess the risks associated with the use of chemicals, solvents and other agents, and take all necessary steps to prevent exposure to risks. This means following a hierarchy of control measures:

  1. Eliminate the chemical, for example by changing the work process.
  2. Substitute the chemical for a safer one.
  3. Protect staff from exposure to it by enclosing the process.
  4. Provide adequate ventilation.
  5. Only then, as a last resort, should your employer rely on personal protective equipment (PPE) to prevent exposure (such as gloves and face masks) and ensure their proper use.

Where necessary your employer must introduce a system of health surveillance. Your employer must also provide information and training to all staff about the risks of dermatitis and how to prevent it.

Employers are required to report many cases of occupational dermatitis under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR), provided they are notified in writing about them by a doctor (for example, through a ‘fit note’ recording occupational dermatitis). The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) website has more information on RIDDOR.