As occupational skin cancer cases increase, safety experts warn employers of the risks of UV radiation
Nick Foort, Technical Skin Specialist at the UK’s leading safety company Arco, discusses the risk of skin cancer facing outdoor workers and the responsibility employers have to ensure protection.
Many Health and Safety Managers express a real concern around the health and well-being of their employees and appreciate the risk skin cancer from UV exposure poses, but often feel that there are other risks that require more immediate attention. However, many are shocked to learn that skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the world and cases in the UK are rising faster than the rest of Europe. On average five workers a day get skin cancer in Britain, with occupational skin cancer killing 60 people every year, which is more than falls from height or crush injuries.
With more than 1,500 new cases of non-melanoma skin cancer and 240 cases of malignant melanoma linked to solar radiation reported in Britain each year, it’s vital employers understand their responsibility and legal duty of care when protecting their workers from UV radiation. With 90% of all occupational skin cancer deaths being preventable, the importance of employers placing the right precautions in place to protect their workers is paramount.
So why isn’t more attention paid to such a risk? There is a common misconception that the weather in the UK isn’t sunny enough to pose a high risk of skin cancer to outdoor workers. However, up to 80% of dangerous UV rays still get through heavy cloud and the strength of solar radiation isn’t connected to temperature. .
In addition, it’s been reported that two out of three workers are unware they are at risk of skin cancer, resulting in many not applying protection whilst working outdoors, even if it has been provided. Due to the high risk involved with skin cancer and the fact that outdoor workers receive up to 10 times the yearly sun exposure of indoor workers, employers need to do more than simply provide sun cream to their staff, greater education into the risks facing outdoor workers needs to be carried out. Now is the time employers need to ensure they are going above and beyond to offer education and protection.
- Key risks to outdoor workers
- Examples of the skin conditions sun exposure can cause
- A real-life skin cancer story
- Education on common workplace myths
- Advice on best practice