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News

Stopping skin disease

HSE InfoLine : 08 March, 2004  (Company News)
The Health and Safety Commission is inviting firms to comment on a proposed ban on high-chromium cement, a known cause of allergic dermatitis, a painful, disfiguring and sometimes disabling skin disease. Once skin is sensitised, the condition can become irreversible and force people to give up their jobs.
The Health and Safety Commission is inviting firms to comment on a proposed ban on high-chromium cement, a known cause of allergic dermatitis, a painful, disfiguring and sometimes disabling skin disease. Once skin is sensitised, the condition can become irreversible and force people to give up their jobs.

The ban would protect builders, bricklayers, tilers and anyone who uses cement, concrete, mortar, grout and tile adhesive. It implements a European Community Directive and would come into force in January 2005.

The ban would make illegal the supply and use of cement with more than two parts per million of chromium VI. At present, most cement used in the UK contains more than this level of chromium VI and therefore presents an unnecessary risk to workers' health. It can be made safe through the addition of a reducing agent.

Bill Macdonald, Head of Policy on Skin Disease at the Health and Safety Executive, said:
'This ban would be an important step in our campaign against skin disease. Dermatitis is a very nasty affliction which can inflict huge discomfort on sufferers. Many people have been forced to give up their jobs, and are often left with painful and damaged hands for life. In a typical year between 200 and 400 new cases of allergic contact come to light. We are now giving firms the chance to tell us how they think we should bring this ban in.'
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