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Eczema – also known as dermatitis – is one of the most common work-related illnesses in the catering industry. It is an uncomfortably dry, itchy and irritated sensation affecting the skin, especially on the hands and forearms. It is thought to be caused – or exacerbated – by several things that are commonplace in the catering industry, such as regularly washing the hands, using cleaning products to wipe down surfaces and utensils, and working in environments that are excessively hot or cold.

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If your employees become affected by dermatitis, it can be difficult to treat without taking a significant amount of time off work. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) notes that the incidence rate of dermatitis within the catering industry is twice as high as the average rate across other industries.

For this reason, it is important to protect the health of your staff and the profitability of your business by preventing dermatitis in the workplace. Take a look at the tips below, which will help to significantly reduce the risk of dermatitis in the kitchen.

Protect the skin

When appropriate, encourage the use of non-latex gloves and provide disposable towels to dry the hands. Any moisturising creams or antibacterial wash should preferably be fragrance-free and hypo-allergenic to minimise the risk of irritating the skin.

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Avoid direct contact with harsh cleaning solutions

Hygiene in the catering industry is of paramount importance. Commercial refrigeration and cooking requirements often means that a lot of equipment must be used and kept clean. These cleaning products can often be in very harsh or concentrated solutions. If the skin comes into regular direct contact with these products, dermatitis and irritation is often the result. Some catering professionals may even find that direct contact with very hot or cold water can have this effect. For this reason, encourage the use of gloves where possible, and make use of equipment such as food processors and dishwashers from quality companies such as https://www.fridgefreezerdirect.co.uk/. The use of equipment such as this will minimise unnecessary contact with areas that are regularly cleaned and mean that employees’ hands are less likely to be submerged in cleaning solutions or irritant ingredients.

Perform regular checks

Finally, encourage everyone to regularly check their skin for any discomfort or irritation and seek advice if they are concerned.

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