This study describes the types, causes, and outcomes of potential irritation and allergy incidents among workers in British Columbia’s health care industry. Data on occupation-induced allergy and irritation incidents were extracted from a standardized database using the number of productive hours obtained from payroll data as a denominator during a 1-year period from three British Columbia health regions. Younger workers, female workers, facility support service workers, laboratory assistants and technicians, and maintenance and acute care workers were found to be at higher risk for allergy and irritation incidents.
Major causes of allergy and irritation incidents included chemicals, blood and body fluids, food and objects, communicable diseases, air quality, and latex. A larger proportion of chemically induced incidents resulted in first aid care only, whereas non-chemical incidents required more emergency room visits.