Toxic Printers: Contact Dermatitis from Toner Dust an Accident at Work?

OVG Münster: Not a very high risk of illness for a tax official

Contact dermatitis caused by toner dust cannot be recognized as an "accident at work" even in administrative professions. The likelihood of illness is not higher than inflammatory skin reactions in other professions, as the Higher Administrative Court (OVG) North Rhine-Westphalia in Münster ruled in a decision announced on Tuesday, July 12, 2016 (Az .: 3 A 3510/13).

Inflammatory skin reactions to contact with certain substances are called contact dermatitis. The "stimulus response" and warning signal of the skin is usually a burning and itchy sensation. If contact with the fabric remains too frequent, reddening, swelling and eczema follow.

In this specific case, a clerk and later department head of a tax office claimed that toner dust from laser printers had caused contact dermatitis in him. The dust on every document to be processed is also contained in the air.

The chief financial officer responsible for the accident compensation officer did not recognize this as an "accident at work". The Münster Administrative Court dismissed the action in the first instance. With its decision of July 8, 2016, the OVG Münster did not allow the appeal against this.

Illnesses could also be recognized by civil servants as an "accident at work" (similar to an occupational disease in other workers). However, the prerequisite is that the risk of illness due to work is significantly higher than that of the rest of the population. Therefore, even if the tax official's presentation that toner dust can cause contact dermatitis is correct, it is not enough. This does not yet prove that the risk of illness is particularly high in the tax office and that this probability is much higher than for other substances in other professions, such as hairdressers.

Nationwide there are around 16 million laser printers in companies. Based on this, the likelihood of contact dermatitis due to toner dust is “at most in the low single-digit percentage range”. Therefore, one cannot speak of a high risk of illness overall, emphasized the OLG. The defining cause here was therefore not the working conditions, but an individual disposition. mwo / fle

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Video: How a Color Laser Printer Works -- Inside an HP 2600 Toner Cartridge (December 2021).