Article Text


121 Hand eczema in the construction industry: prevalence and determinants
  1. J G Timmerman,
  2. Heederik Spee,
  3. Smit
  1. Institute for Risk Assessment Sciences (Utrecht University), Utrecht, Nederland


Introduction In most Western European countries, prevalence of hand eczema in the general population is estimated at around 4%. In the construction industry, a higher prevalence can be expected due to exposure to irritating and allergenic agents. Aim of the present study was to investigate the prevalence and determinants of hand eczema in several job titles within the construction industry.

Methods As part of a voluntary medical examination, a questionnaire including items on health symptoms and working circumstances was administered to construction workers between 2005 and 2011. A response rate of about 50% was achieved, 152.200 men were included: 115.379 construction yard workers and 36.821 office personnel. Hand eczema was defined as one or more self-reported skin symptoms. Associations between possible risk factors and hand eczema were assessed using log-binomial regression.

Results Hand eczema prevalence was 25% among construction yard personnel and 15% among office personnel. Skin hypersensitivity for job-related substances was reported by 10% and 3%, respectively. Hand eczema was most often reported by plasterers (36%) and bricklayers (31%). Carpenters and painters most frequently reported skin hypersensitivity (both 11%). Compared to office personnel, all construction yard job titles had a significantly increased prevalence ratio (PR) for hand eczema. Among construction yard personnel, dry skin (PR 2.02, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.95–2.10) and nuisance due to exposure to dust (PR: 1.57, 95% CI: 1.53–1.61) were the most important determinants for hand eczema. For skin hypersensitivity, dry skin (PR 2.27, 95% CI: 2.19–2.36) and dust exposure (PR 1.78, 95% CI: 1.71–1.86) were also the main determinants. Skin hypersensitivity was reported less often among glove users (PR 0.61, 95% CI: 0.58–0.63).

Conclusion Hand eczema is very common among construction workers. Dust exposure and a dry skin type were associated with a higher prevalence of hand eczema and work-related skin hypersensitivity.

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