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|13.0 Preventative And Protective Measures Recommended |
By Statutory Bodies, Employers  
There are some basic measures which can be carried out to prevent dermatitis from plants, with
the co-operation of the workers and employer.
* First would be to avoid the products if know what caused it, or treating those know to cause allergy with respect, removing or substituting the plant where possible for less harmful types.
* The second line of defence is cleanliness, if the worker stays free from other agents, dirt and perspiration, it will aid his natural barriers of the skin. The worker ideally should be fully clothed, in overalls, even in summer to avoid contact.
* Barrier creams, moisturisers, neutralisers, binders and inactivators are recommended by many people, these form a protective film over the skin, supposedly inhibiting chemical penetration.
* The third line of defence is gloves, there are hundreds of types available, which the
employer is duty bound to provide. Glasses also can be worn.
* The employer is also provided to educate the employees on the types of plants that cause
dermatitis in the work place, and on induction, ask about his personal allergic history and
knowledge of dermatitis.
* The HSE Personal Protective Equipment Regulations are not a statement of the law but
recommends employers to provide safety equipment against at risk in the workplace. and details
how training should be provided.
* The HS at Work Act 1974  provides that the employer has a duty to maintain processes that are not a risk to health, ensure the Health and Safety of workers as far as reasonably practical, and provide adequate safety equipment if there is a reasonable risk to health. The employer is also duty bound to protect the employer from exposure to hazards that are likely to cause dermatitis, to survey all hazardous work undertaken, and to supervise the health of employees.
* Under COSSH Regulations,  the employer is bound to protect
the employees from all substances which damage the skin.
* Washing facilities must also be provided to minimise the risks of the affliction.
They both recommend the basic methods outlined above.
* Immunisation and Hyposensitisation  has been recommended against many allergies, including ragweed dermatitis. This involves feeding the patient increasing doses of allergenic extracts of the plants. This takes approximately 2 months, and must be monitored by an experienced physician.
14.0 The Problems With Preventative Recommendation 
These basic measures are adequate, and will prevent most causes of dermatitis. The problems arise
when the work is prolonged, the work is intricate or the chemicals potent. Therefore dermatitis still occurs in huge numbers, the first problem is the legislation, it is not enforced, and is not law, fines are rarely made. inspections are rare, employers are to busy or not concerned enough to provide better measures of protection and seldom point out the risks involved, as they see them to be minimal, and
will avoid telling the employee as it may inhibit his enthusiasm for the job. Worker and employer seldom cooperate, or are told which plants are dangerous in the workspace. The employee, especially the young, who is happy whiling away the hours does not realise the acute dangers he is in, that could flare up in later life. As we are able to see in the results of the questioner also, that people are very ignorant on the sorts and types of preventative measures The problems with avoidance or isolation of the plant is that,
if that is done, then no work can be carried out on the plant. Avoidance of 20 acres of Tulips is an impossibility!! The hygiene factor is an important one, and I believe that most employers will give access to at least a basin and hot water, the problem is not the water, but what he uses to wash with. Soaps are degreasing agents, and hydrophobic. That means they remove the upper protective layers of the skin,
to the detriment of their the natural barriers, thus allowing penetration of a greater variety of chemicals. It also softens the skin, leaving it open to penetration by burrs and thorns. Also the manmade barrier creams which many people apply are relatively ineffective against anything other than water penetration, as noted by Adams Mitchell  Other creams are also inadequate because they are easily removed and
are only effective for half a day. or do not block the pores of the skin, which are the main entry points. There are chemical neutralisers available but they inadequate for a horticultural situation. Solvents, alcohol's and petrol are tried and tested methods of removing chemicals, after work, but these are
toxic volatile chemicals. Many people also find sticky greasy substances on their hands repulsive and hinder their work process, it also is impractical to spread over the whole body.
Hyposensitisation is a long and complex method, very expensive, and can only be done by a
physician, acute dermatitis may also occur in sensitive patients.
14. 1 Problems With Protective clothing
Is the best method, although the problems are threefold here. Most people do not like to wear cumbersome overalls in horticulture, especially when the weather heats up inside a greenhouse,
making the person perspire, adding to the dangers. Many people also roll their sleeves up because they
get in the way of their work!! This is how most dermatitis cases are caused. The clothing is difficult
to wash too, because they need to be separated. In order that they remain effective, all the noxious substances that build up on the overalls must be removed, or the worker in his overalls will become
a walking hazard to everyone!! Gloves are usually bought in bulk by an employer, and are a standard
type of cheap workmen's glove. These are inadequate when handling plants and for carrying out delicate work e.g. taking a cutting. They also are very absorbent and can still reach the skin. Other rubber, leather and cotton gloves are available but these too are either too absorbent, too thick for delicate
work, or too short to protect the whole arm, the materials are also irritant. There is always the problem
of wanting to brush sweat from ones face, chemicals are easily transferred to the face and other parts
of the body. Even with full protection, as with aboriculturists, dusts and pollens will enter clothing. Education is a big problem also, employees and employers are very basic in their knowledge of plants
and dermatitis. Surveillance does not get carried out, induction programmes scrapped, it is generally
the employer himself that must take the preventative measures himself, but how can he do so if there
is no one to advise him, until its too late??
Dermatitis In the Horticulture Industry By James M. Burton In Association With Pencoed College Copyright 1997