A survey to determine the prevalence of dermatitis in collieries and to investigate the aetiology of the condition has been carried out in South Wales.
Two collieries were chosen because of a marked variation between them in the incidence of claims for dermatitis compensation. The method was to examine the entire colliery populations and to submit the cases found to detailed study.
The populations consisted of all miners on the colliery pay-rolls on the day the survey began. Of both populations practically 100% were examined.
The cases were classified as occupational and non-occupational, and a third group was reserved for doubtful cases possibly related to occupation. The prevalence of occupational dermatitis was almost the same in the two collieries. The prevalence of non-occupational dermatitis was also similar in the two collieries. The incidence of claims for benefit does not therefore appear to reflect the true prevalence of the disease. A correlation between the contrasting claims rates and variation in the severity of occupational dermatitis in the two collieries was established.
Occupational dermatitis most commonly developed on the lower limbs; this tendency was greatest in coal-face workers. The special distribution of the rash corresponded to the areas most exposed to frictional damage at work.
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