Act quickly with occupational allergy

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Examine occupational allergies at an early stage and take appropriate countermeasures

It is not uncommon for occupational allergies to make those affected unable to work and they can no longer carry out their original employment. At the first warning signs such as regular runny nose, cough, itchy eyes or skin irritation, which disappear at the weekend or during the non-working periods, according to the Association of German Company and Works Physicians (VDBW), a check should be carried out urgently and, if in doubt, appropriate protective measures should be taken.

According to the Association of German Company and Works Physicians, "one in seven Germans suffers from an occupational allergy." In many professions, employees are constantly exposed to allergy-causing substances and the risk of an occupational allergy is correspondingly high, which could ultimately lead to the occupational disability of those affected. "Often, those affected do not even know that and to which substances in their work environment they are allergic," reports the VDBW. According to the experts, the allergens are absorbed through the skin in most cases, "with an increased risk in practically all professions in which you come into contact with water, chemicals, food, dirt, dust, plants or animals", explained Dr. Wolfgang Panter, President of the Association of German Company and Company Doctors. Basically, however, there is the possibility "to protect against all substances - you just have to apply the protective measures correctly."

Protective clothing against work-related allergies According to the VDBW President, in many cases the right protective gloves are sufficient to avoid allergic reactions among the employees. It is only important that immediate action is taken if an allergy is suspected. With the help of the company doctor, appropriate protective measures can then be taken in order to "preserve the workplace and also the professional activity of the employees", explained Dr. Panter. Customized strategies to avoid allergens are a promising approach here. Appropriate protective clothing and certain skin care products can be used in this sense, but a complete restructuring of the workplace is also conceivable.

Contact eczema and asthma caused by allergens in the workplace According to the VDBW, the most common forms of occupational allergies are allergic contact eczema and asthma. While contact eczema often appears as an itchy rash, asthma manifests itself primarily in regular coughing and occasional shortness of breath. Occupational asthma is usually associated with dust in the work environment, while contact eczema is due to external irritation caused by harmful substances. Here, for example, the increased use of epoxy resins in the construction industry is extremely critically evaluated by the VDBW, since these substances can cause massive eczema even with slight skin contact. To avoid this, we recommend a multi-stage concept developed together with the dermatologists, which supports those affected "with medical care and personal advice in their everyday work," reports the VDBW. Some accident insurance providers also offer special seminars in which those affected learn how to manage their complaints at work, explains the VDBW President Dr. (fp)

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