Outdoor workers are exposed to the elements all year round and this means that they are at an increased risk of developing skin cancer.
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the UK and is on the rise – it kills 60 workers a year in Britain, which is why sun protection at work is essential.
Every year in the UK, there are 240 new cases of malignant melanoma linked to sun exposure and at least 1,500 new cases of non-melanoma skin cancer.
Blackpool Council supports sun safety for outdoor workers to prevent and lower the risk of skin cancer. With 90% of all skin cancer deaths being preventable if sun exposure is controlled, it’s essential that workers have the knowledge and awareness to protect themselves.
The beach patrol team at Blackpool are given a sun safety document as part of their induction process. Workers are advised that they should use a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30, and this should be applied half an hour before exposure and reapplied at least every couple of hours.
All staff are given hats and SPF50 sunscreen to protect against over-exposure. Sunglasses with 100% UV protection also form part of the sun safety strategy.
Cllr Amy Cross, Cabinet Member for Reducing Health Inequalities, said: “Everyone is at risk of sun damage and skin cancer but outdoor workers are at a higher risk as they spend more time exposed to UV radiation.
“People need to be aware of the dangers of UV radiation at work and how to protect their skin even on cool, cloudy days as up to 80% of UVA rays can pass through clouds and cause significant skin damage.
“Skin cancer is an avoidable disease, which is why we ensure that our staff are protected against many of the risks of solar radiation.”
Getting painful sunburn just once every two years can triple the risk of the most deadly form of skin cancer, malignant melanoma which means that sun safety at work is essential.
Employers can help promote sun safety practices and adopt effective sun protection measures to reduce the risk of skin cancer in the workplace. Providing guidance on skin cancer prevention and early detection will ensure that employees understand how to safeguard against the sun’s harmful rays.
Anyone working outside in the sun from gardeners and builders to refuse collectors and parking attendants should protect themselves at work as exposure to the sun for long periods of time can cause skin damage that is not always visible to the naked eye.
To prevent or control exposure, outdoor workers should:
- Stay covered up
- Wear a hat that covers the ears and neck
- Stay in the shade whenever possible
- Use at least SPF30 sunscreen
- Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration