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The impact of chemical exposure on shipyard workers’ skin health

On Behalf of | Dec 22, 2023 | Workers' Compensation |

As a shipyard worker, your job can be physically demanding. You also know that it exposes you to a variety of hazardous chemicals. One of the most common health risks associated with shipyard work is skin exposure to chemicals, which can cause a range of health problems, from skin irritation to serious diseases like skin cancer.

This blog will explore shipyards’ most commonly used hazardous chemicals and their potential to develop skin disorders.

Potential chemical irritants

The following chemicals may be dangerous to human health, but because they’re often used in shipyards, workers will have many opportunities to expose themselves to these irritants:

  • Solvents: Shipyards commonly use solvents to clean and degrease surfaces. They include chemicals like trichloroethylene (TCE), tetrachloroethylene (PCE), and methylene chloride. These chemicals can cause skin irritation, rashes, and other skin disorders. Likelihood of exposure: High
  • Cleaning agents: Shipyard workers often expose themselves to a variety of cleaning agents, including detergents, soaps, and disinfectants, which can also cause skin irritation and other disorders. Likelihood of exposure: Moderate to High
  • Paints and coatings: Ships use specialized paints that can weather seawater and the elements. But these paints also have solvents, heavy metals, and other harmful chemicals that can trigger skin irritation, allergies and more. Likelihood of exposure: Moderate to High
  • Adhesives: Marine adhesives are vital in helping bond and seal hulls, hatches, and other structural components. They also contain solvents such as epoxy and polyurethane, which are known skin irritants. Likelihood of exposure: Moderate to High
  • Fuel and oil: Skin exposure to crude oil and its derivatives can cause skin to redden and swell. It can also cause a burning sensation. The effects get worse if the person exposes the affected skin to sunlight. Likelihood of exposure: Moderate to High
  • Welding rods and fluxes: Shipyard workers performing cutting and welding expose themselves to heavy metals like lead and chromium, which can cause skin irritation. Likelihood of exposure: High

Chemical exposure is a serious health risk for shipyard workers, and the impact on skin health can be devastating. If you are a shipyard worker who has been injured by chemical exposure, it is essential to seek medical attention immediately and consult with an experienced legal professional. An attorney can help guide you through the workers’ compensation process and defend your right to a claim if your employer or insurer denies it.