Back To Contents
Changes Advocated
21.0 Current Education

The HSE recommends, not by law, that the causes and preventative measures pertaining to dermatitis should be made known to all employees and that the employer should carry out surveillance programmes in order to minimalise the dangers likely to cause dermatitis. Plant Dermatitis at Work HSE leaflet Is the only published literature from the HSE I have found that is fully explanatory . It advocates that employers to take measures to protect their employees, and importantly asks the employee to think about protecting himself. COSHH specifically under Regulation 12 recommends that all employees are informed, trained and supervised on all substances covered by them.
The HSE set up a Save Your Skin Campaign in 1988 to raise the profile of the issue in British Industry. They also fund research into skin diseases. Under this scheme RIDOR was set up, but does not need plant dermatitis to be educated. The Skin Care Campaign is a group of Professional awareness bodies led by doctors and dermatologists that publishes literature and raises awareness in industry. There are also Journals specifically relating to Contact Dermatitis available in many lending libraries. It is generally left to the employee to provide his own education, as advocated by the HSE.

22.0 The Problems With Education

Because dermatitis of plant origin is not recognised as a prescribed injury or disease, and Horticulture is not listed as a Prescribed Occupation by the Government departments, employers do not feel that they obliged by law to inform their employees about the dangers they face from plants, this is the reality in today's colleges and major horticultural retailers.  From personal experience I have studied at a horticultural college for seven years, and have not been informed about dermatitis until now, by myself. There are no specific leaflets from the HSE relating to dermatitis from plants, and as we see from my detailed survey of Horticultural managers and Staff, knowledge at both levels is negligible. Trained florists seem to be well informed about the disease, as they are perhaps more refined people, but also deal with a wider range of plants. Those in casual labour will be lucky to receive their wages let alone a briefing on dermatitis. It is wrong in my opinion to place the onus on the employee to take measures to protect himself, he should of course inform his employer on the possible dangers, that he may not be aware of from his position.  Its all very well the various organisations publishing leaflets and material to make people aware, but they seldom get into the hands of those who really need it, the workers and students, who will not become aware until it is too late.

Dermatitis In the Horticulture Industry By James M. Burton In Association With Pencoed College Copyright 1997.