Skin Disorders (Dermatitis)

Safety & Health Assessment & Research for Prevention (SHARP) — Research for Safe Work

  • Data Summaries - SHARP's dermatitis surveillance data.
  • Educational Material - Concerning occupational exposures and prevention of dermatitis.
  • Surveys - Conducted for surveillance, evaluation and prevention purposes.
  • References & Links - Technical information, references, guidelines and links.

About SHARP's Work-Related Dermatitis Program

The Safety and Health Assessment and Research for Prevention (SHARP) Program at the Department of Labor & Industries conducts work-related dermatitis research and surveillance. This multi-faceted project is funded by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH ( This is a Washington Sentinel Event Notification System for Occupational Risks (SENSOR) Dermatitis Program that conducts surveillance on and prevention of work-related dermatitis. This Web site describes the research projects, educational materials and surveys conducted by this project, as well as summaries of data collected. Many of these documents can be downloaded.


The skin is susceptible to damage in many occupations and workplaces. Skin irritation can be a significant problem when there is exposure to mechanical, physical, chemical and biological agents such as friction, excessive heat, wind and cold, sunlight, dust, metals, organic and inorganic chemicals, detergents, soaps, irritating plant and food materials. The damage to the skin can result in conditions ranging from dryness to severe irritant or allergic contact dermatitis.

Washington SENSOR Dermatitis Program

The Washington SENSOR Dermatitis Program conducted surveillance activities using data provided by two sources: a network of physicians in the state that reported work-related dermatitis cases and the Washington State workers' compensation system. Site visits and prevention activities were carried out as a result of surveillance activities.


An occupational disease surveillance system acquires information about hazardous exposures, the occurrence of diseases and injuries, analyzes the information and disseminates and interprets it to those who need it in order to prevent disease and injury. A surveillance system should have the capability to investigate further and to intervene to prevent disease or injury. For more information on surveillance strategies, visit the NIOSH ( Web site.

Skin physiology

A teaching module with information on skin physiology, the physical skin barrier, how irritants harm the barrier and repair of the skin by moisturizers. Report 56-2-2001a (174 KB PDF).

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