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P3.1 OCCUPATIONAL CONTACT DERMATITIS AND WORKERS’ COMPENSATION
K. Frowen1, J. Cromie2, R. Nixon1.1Occupational Dermatology Research & Education Centre, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia; 2La Trobe University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Introduction: Statistics for occupational contact dermatitis in Australia are gathered from workers’ compensation (WC) data, and previous research has indicated that this data underestimates occurrence by as much as 400%. This study investigated factors that might influence the decisions of workers as to whether or not to claim WC.
Methods: A self administered questionnaire was posted to 168 individuals diagnosed with significantly work related occupational contact dermatitis at a specialised occupational dermatology clinic, therefore fulfilling valid claim criteria under the WC scheme operating in the state of Victoria.
Results: We analysed 70 completed responses. Ages ranged from 18–65 years; there were 40 women (57%) and 30 men (43%). Only 40% of respondents had claimed WC, with females being significantly (p<0.05) less likely to claim. Respondents who had dermatitis present for less than 6 months were also less likely to claim, along with those aged under 45 years. The occupational groups of the respondents included 37% healthcare workers, 10% hairdressers, 7% food handlers, and of the industry groups, 29% worked in hospitals, 24% in manufacturing, 10% in hairdressing salons, and 7% each in vehicle maintenance, food service, and trades. Only 4/20 healthcare workers and 1/ 7 hairdressers claimed, presumably highlighting the predominance of females in these occupations. The other occupational groups were a little more evenly split. Of the respondents, 31% no longer worked for the same employer; however, 90% of respondents were still employed. Those who did not claim WC lost less time from work than those who claimed, but more of the non-claimants still had skin problems quite often or constantly than did the claimants. For non-claimants, 28.5% had all …