G. Lyons, J. Cahill, A. Palmer, R.L. Nixon
Introduction: Occupational contact dermatitis (OCD) is a
common problem in hairdressing (1), but the prevalence of
OCD in this occupation may not be accurately reﬂ ected in
workers’ compensation datasets.
Method: A retrospective analysis was performed of the PatchCAMS database for all hairdressers assessed at the Occupa-
tional Dermatology Clinic, Melbourne between 1993 and 2010.
WorkSafe workers’ compensation claims data was obtained
for the same time period, Claims data was also compared
between 2004/2005 and 2008/2009 to identify any trends.
Results: 164 hairdressers or hairdressing apprentices were seen between 1993 and 2010. 157 (96%) were diagnosed with OCD, and 70% of these had a primary diagnosis of allergic contact dermatitis. Claim rates by hairdressers for workers compensation in Australia over the same period were lower than expected, given the high prevalence of OCD seen in our patients, and that reported in the literature. Overall, the rate of workers’ compensation claims is decreasing; however OCD remains the 4 th most common occupational disease for which workers compensation is sought for in Australia.
Discussion and conclusion: More needs to be done to
address occupational risk factors to reduce hairdressers’
dermatitis. In addition, hairdressers need to be aware of
their compensation entitlements. Reliance on workers’
compensation data for disease surveillance may lead occu-
pational health and safety regulators to underestimate the
magnitude of the problem.