Since its inception in 2010, the EADV “Healthy skin@Work” europrevention campaign aimed at raising awareness of key stakeholders (EU parliament, international organizations, social partners, national governments) that occupational skin diseases have an important economic burden and that prevention measures are cheap, easy and exceptionally effective. One key actor is the dermatologist as the competent specialist for all occupational skin diseases from dermatitis to skin cancer. Networking, lobbying and actions at national and international level have therefore been the main focus of activities during the past years.
Thanks to the commitment of numerous EADV members involved in the campaign, national and local activities in Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, Germany, Czech Republic, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Spain and Norway - just to name a few - were carried out. These include press conferences, broadcast interviews, yearly week of occupational skin diseases, free-of-charge patch testing and consultations, debates at national Parliaments and meetings with stakeholders. The resonance has been very rewarding, leading to some remarkable outcomes and multiplier effects to reach sustainability. One such example is Austria with the launch of a new competence center for prevention of occupational skin diseases; another example is Norway, where various campaigns have been carried out to raise awareness on a completely neglected field in public health and new epidemiological data generated. Also in Romania, negotiations are currently being held to include occupational skin cancer in the list of occupational diseases. Other significant results are a Call to Action and a JEADV supplement on sun-induced occupational skin cancer published in April 2016. With the support of EADV, for the first time a position paper on evidence-based common European required standards on OSD prevention and patient management was published in June 2017. The paper, disseminated to all European ministers of labour and health, aims at closing the gap of lacking coherent and standardized OSD prevention strategies.
Exchange and cooperation with international agencies (WHO, ILO) has furthermore significantly developed and reflects the growing focus of interest in skin diseases. Hence, dermatological expertise is increasingly requested when writing global reports (e.g. WHO global report on Psoriasis) and when having expert consultations on the ICD-11 Supplementary Classification e.g. of contact allergens or occupational skin cancer. The EADV has in addition become an official partner of the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU OSHA, Bilbao) for campaigning activities.
A new branch of the campaign has also been created , namely “Skin Cancer: Safe Work Under the Sun”, which aims at improved prevention for outdoor workers in Europe and lobby for changes in EU legislation, e.g. DIRECTIVE 2004/37/EC on the protection of workers from the risks related to exposure to carcinogens or mutagens at work in order to include natural UV as another important carcinogen at the workplace.
Another noteworthy undertaking resulting from this campaign is the comprehensive measurement of exposure of outdoor workers to solar UV radiation. Volunteers (masons) in five countries (Denmark, Italy, Croatia, Romania, Spain) have been wearing during the past months the UV-dosimeter GENESIS-UV. The body position and location of the sun are continuously assessed by this device and recorded automatically. The very precise - and in many instances surprising – data gathered enable a much better understanding on the risk exposure of outdoor workers with a view to developing improved and targeted preventive measures. These evidence-based data will also help convince policy-makers to act vis-à-vis of this health threat to outdoor workers.
In sum, the EADV has been able to place occupational skin diseases on the public health agenda through the many activities of this campaign. However, more needs to be done to keep these efforts sustainable and to further increase awareness.
Hearing at Romanian Parliament, Bucharest, October 2015
Interactive exhibition in the European Parliament, on skin cancer caused by UV solar radiation as an occupational disease, June 2017, Brussels
Call to Action, April 2016, Brussels, European Parliament
Campaign logo in 12 languages
Prof. Dr. Swen Malte John