Occupational_Contact_Dermatitis_in_Consruction_Industry -...

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Occupational Contact Dermatitis in Construction Industry Position Paper Prepared for Workplace Safety Taskforce By
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Occupational contact dermatitis (OCD) is a pathological condition of the skin for which direct exposure to environmental agents associated with the workplace is the chief causal factor. Such medical condition arises due to the antagonistic reaction between the chemical agent and the worker who has come into contact with the former to which he is susceptible. The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) estimated in 2006 that 59 people had contracted OCD (MOM, 2008). One should recognize that in reality, however, such reported statistics are not a true reflection of the situation. This is attributed to the reluctance to report factually on the part of both the worker and employer for fear of job insecurity and safety-breach related penalties respectively (Ng & Goh, October, 2001). Therefore the actual situation may be much more significant as far as pecuniary issues are implicated. Disconcertingly, OCD has inflicted much morbidity on the workers, and are a visible cause of diminishing productivity and sickness absence in construction industry specifically. Despite the existing safety measures and guidelines in place to pre-empt OCD, the trend of such occupational hazard shows no obvious sign of abating over past 5 years (MOM, 2008). This inherently translates into a critical challenge to address the issue of whether safety would be compromised or the undesirable trend can be further mitigated in tandem with the accelerating pace of Singapore’s built-up developments. To achieve the latter, the implementation of appropriate legislation to mandate the use of innocuous cement and washing areas to facilitate the elimination of causative agents upon contact should be considered. Effect The symptoms of OCD include redness, itching, scaling and blistering of the skin. In serious untreated condition, the skin may become swollen, cracked and eventually scaly (National Skin Centre, 1995).This skin inflammation is usually confined to the site of contact with the causative agents, but in severe cases it may spread to cover large areas of the body. The effects may not be immediate and are contingent on the susceptibility of the individual. Furthermore, the associated allergic sensitization has poor prognosis, i.e. the condition may remain with the individual through life even with subsequent avoidance of the allergen (Ibid). Besides the morbidity attributed to the mentioned outward effects, the psychological repercussion manifests itself in cases of misreporting due to issues of job security and monetary penalties that may be imposed on employers if found to be negligent.
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This note was uploaded on 02/25/2011 for the course EG 1413 taught by Professor Prof during the Spring '11 term at National University of Singapore.

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Occupational_Contact_Dermatitis_in_Consruction_Industry -...

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