Back To Contents
Who is Affected?
Cost To Industry
7.0 Who Is At Risk In The Industry
And Why Are They At Risk?

As, (Chap.1.4) those who are young, going through puberty and students who are often employed within the industry for short periods of casual labour in the summer and for work experience are mostly at risk because they have not  been sufficiently trained by their school, college or HSE on the dangers of dermatitis and which plants cause it. They often do not have a contract with the employer, who will not feel obliged to waste time on educating those who will not listen.  They therefore enter the employment blind to the dangers that await them. They are often hard working, but foolish, clumsy and flippant in the treatment of the plants, of which they may only recognise very poisonous varieties. They may feel constricted by wearing dirty unfashionable gloves, and will often strip off in hot sunny weather. They are therefore prone to sensitisation, by contact, as their skin is soft, sweaty and unprotected and vulnerable. At the other end of the age scale are those who are between the ages of 40 and 70, whose skin is in a rapid state of degradation, and may have handled plants for almost 30 years, previously become sensitised, but as the immune system breaks down they will become open to attack.. They may not have worn protection through this period. They may also be clumsy and prone to accident. Other people who come into contact with the plants are likely to be those with sensitive skin, and are allergic to a whole host of chemicals, regardless of age or condition. Other people may have a physical or emotional disorder, stress or defect, with a weak immune system, which predispose them to affliction. This relationship in shown in Figure 7.1(Taken from DSS guidlines publications.

FIGURE 7.1 Graph Showing The Relationship Between Susceptibility To Dermatitis & Age
Those people in the industry who are most at risk, are those in casual or part time labour as specified, who do not have a contract, and have not been briefed on the dangers that they may come into contact with, because the employer may fear he will 'frighten' them and loose them, or does not feel obliged to do tell them as it is not a legal requirement.  Even those who are full time have not been tested or questioned  as to their ailment background Also most employers do not patch test their employees, unless required to do in cases of compensation.  Other factors that would predispose them to attack would be those who wash thoroughly with soaps barrier creams, cleansers, degreasers and associated chemicals, which remove the horny dead layers, oils, and acids that protect the skin.. Shaving hair growth also removes an important barrier from ultra violet light and particles. If the skin is treated well from within and without  the natural barriers will remain effective.How do these people come into contact with the plants? Well they generally do not wear protective clothing, or unsuitable clothing. Employers will not provide clothing unless there is an immediate and obvious risk to health under law. Even those who do wear gloves  will become affected on the forearms, and will wipe the face with the gloves. Gloves are often of unsuitable material, which absorb the chemical. Those with full protective clothing may experience dusts and pollen landing on the neck and may enter through spaces in the clothing. The working conditions to are often to blame. Those in hot humid conditions of greenhouses, will perspire profusely, magnifying reactions. They may often be at risk from pollen in unventilated conditions. Wet work will also similarly exacerbate chemicals reactions and provoke severe dermatitis.

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