Occupational Dermatology: Ethical Aspects

  • Nikolaus KnoepfflerEmail author
  • Martin O’Malley
Reference work entry


Occupational dermatology is a professional field at the intersection of essentially four ethical realms: society, business, medical profession, and the individual.

The fundamental ethical frameworks of most important occupational health ethical guidelines build upon the consensus principles of human dignity and human rights.

Legal regimen and ethical guidelines are similar in that they build upon consensus social values, without which they are both illegitimate and ineffective. Among the key insights is the obligation to not just workers and employers but also to society and the profession, i.e., to the social values and laws that share wide consensus and to the principles and standards that have established the well-earned respect for medical care.

The “International Code of Ethics for Occupational Health Professionals” (ICOH Code 2014) provides resources for an adequate ethical approach to occupational dermatology.

Divided loyalties should be resolved not by reducing health surveillance or the flow of information between medical professionals and workers but by establishing fully transparent guidelines: Medical officials should be able to attain the information they need to ensure the safest possible workplace, and workers should be assured that their rights and privacy are not violated.

Medical professionals have the duty to refrain from revealing information from employers when that revelation is a violation of workers’ informed consent or when such an action would endanger the trust in their integrity and impartiality. Workers have the duty to share responsibilities for their health as is shown in two examples (genetic predisposition, exposure to UV radiation).


Autonomy Beneficence Bioethics Equity Genetic predisposition Human rights Human dignity Justice Non-maleficence Occupational health Privacy Professional ethics Values 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Applied EthicsFriedrich-Schiller-UniversityJenaGermany

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