Are skin diseases a problem in construction work?

All construction workers are at risk of skin diseases including contact dermatitis and cancer. Bricklayers, roofers, road workers and painters are at particular risk because of frequent contact with harmful substances. Construction workers are at risk of skin cancer mainly because of exposure to the sun during outdoor work, although some harmful substances can also cause skin cancer.

	The substances that cause the most skin health problems are: wet cement, epoxy resins and hardeners, acrylic sealants, bitumen or asphalt, solvents used in paints, glues or other surface coatings, petrol, diesel, oils and greases, degreasers, descalers and detergents.

	The symptoms of dermatitis can be severe including redness, scaling/flaking, blistering, weeping, cracking, swelling, pain and itching. The signs and symptoms of this condition can be so bad that the sufferer is unable to carry on at work.

	Skin damage caused by the sun can include reddening, sunburn and longer term damage such as premature ageing of the skin and an increased chance of developing skin cancer. Signs of skin cancer can include a scaly patch of hard skin, a red lump or spot, an ulcer, a new mole, or a patch of skin which bleeds, oozes or has a crust.