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Dermatitis among workers in Ontario: results from the Occupational Disease Surveillance System
  1. Sharara Shakik1,2,
  2. Victoria Arrandale1,2,
  3. Dorothy Linn Holness2,3,
  4. Jill S MacLeod1,
  5. Christopher B McLeod4,
  6. Alice Peter5,
  7. Paul A Demers1
  1. 1 Occupational Cancer Research Centre, Cancer Care Ontario, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  2. 2 Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  3. 3 Occupational Health, St Michael’s Hospital, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  4. 4 School of Population and Public Health, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  5. 5 Population Health and Prevention, Cancer Care Ontario, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Sharara Shakik, Occupational Cancer Research Centre, Cancer Care Ontario, Toronto, ON M5G 2L3, Canada; sharara.shakik{at}


Objectives Dermatitis is the most common occupational skin disease, and further evidence is needed regarding preventable risk factors. The Occupational Disease Surveillance System (ODSS) derived from administrative data was used to investigate dermatitis risk among industry and occupation groups in Ontario.

Methods ODSS cohort members were identified from Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) accepted lost time claims. A case was defined as having ≥2 dermatitis physician billing claims during a 12-month period within 3 years of cohort entry. A 3-year look-back period prior to cohort entry was used to exclude prevalent cases without a WSIB claim. Workers were followed for 3 years or until dermatitis diagnosis, age 65 years, emigration, death or end of follow-up (31 December 2016), whichever occurred first. Age-adjusted and sex-adjusted Cox proportional hazard models estimated HRs and 95% CIs. The risk of dermatitis was explored using a job exposure matrix that identifies exposure to asthmagens, many of which also cause contact dermatitis.

Results Among 597 401 workers, 23 843 cases of new-onset dermatitis were identified. Expected elevated risks were observed among several groups including furniture and fixture industries, food and beverage preparation and chemicals, petroleum, rubber, plastic and related materials processing occupations and workers exposed to metal working fluids and organic solvents. Decreased risk was observed among farmers, nurses and construction industries, and occupations exposed to latex and indoor cleaning products.

Conclusions ODSS can contribute to occupational dermatitis surveillance in Ontario by identifying occupational groups at risk of dermatitis that can then be prioritised for prevention activities.

  • dermatitis
  • surveillance
  • occupational disease
  • occupational exposure
  • Ontario

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  • Contributors SS drafted the manuscript, interpreted the findings and produced the figures/tables. VA, DLH and JSM assisted in the manuscript revision and provided methodological expertise regarding the development of Occupational Disease Surveillance System and dermatitis study cohort. SS conducted the analyses. PAD, VA, DLH, CBM and AP provided expertise in occupational health and administrative health data. PAD conceived the study and provided overall supervision. All authors assisted in editing the manuscript.

  • Funding This project was funded by Ontario’s Ministry of Labour (#14-R-29) and the Public Health Agency of Canada (#1516-HQ-000066).

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval This study was approved by the University of Toronto Health Sciences Research Ethics Board, Toronto, Canada.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

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