Blackwell Publishing Journal Backfiles 1879-2005
Introduction: Occupational contact dermatitis (OCD) is very common in the printing industry due to contact with chemicals, paper, and wet work. It can be avoided by adequate protective measures, but the effectiveness of intervention depends heavily on the employer’s and employee’s awareness of this health risk.Objectives: The study aimed to collect information on the knowledge, attitudes and beliefs of print workers about the risk of OCD and methods of prevention.Methods: A series of focus groups were held with print workers, health and safety officers and managers to discuss their awareness of dermal risk factors, risk behaviour at work, attitudes to health and safety and options on possible preventive measures. A number of companies were also visited to observe, overtly and covertly, the normal work practices.Results: OCD was not perceived to be either a major problem or a health and safety priority. There was general agreement about the processes and work practices that could cause skin problems. However, work practices varied considerably and did not always reflect this awareness. There was general concern about the type and availability of personal protective equipment, especially gloves and after-work skin cream. The provision of an occupational health service was generally felt to be inadequate, and no company had a policy in place that specifically addressed skin care.Conclusions: These findings highlight the urgency to intensify health and safety education on skin care within the printing industry. Recommendations were developed for the evaluation of a series of risk reduction strategies.
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