Before heading to the beach or the pool, you likely consider items to bring to protect you from the sun. But what about when you’re heading to work? Skin cancer is by far the most common form of cancer and too much exposure to Ultraviolet (UV) radiation increases the risk of skin cancer. Outdoor workers naturally spend more time exposed to UV radiation, putting them at greater risk of sun damage and the potential of developing skin cancers. Despite this, the dangers of skin cancer in the workplace have often been neglected.
Employers have an obligation to minimize the risk of harm to employees. Providing and encouraging sun protection for outdoor workers can help create a healthy and safe workplace. About 132,000 new cases of melanoma are diagnosed worldwide each year, according to the World Health Organization. Treatment of skin cancers in the U.S is estimated at a cost of $8.1 billion per year. According to the Canadian Skin Cancer Foundation, the average melanoma patients lose 28 days from work.
Practice the Five S’s
Most skin cancers are preventable when best practice is followed. Consider the five S’s when it comes to protecting workers from UV exposure.
Sunscreen should be applied to exposed skin 20 minutes before going outdoors. Reapplication is crucial too; it is recommended that sunscreen be reapplied liberally every two to three hours.
Take a look at our video on protecting outdoor workers from harmful UV rays:
Beat the heat: Implement sun safety measures
In Canada the Labour Code states that every employer shall ensure that the health and safety at work of every person employed by the employer is protection. Addressing sun safety is an essential part of this. The Canada Occupational Health and Safety Regulations are governed by the Labour Code and state the employers must provide skin protection to their employees: Skin Protection 12.9.
When it comes to health in the workplace, prevention is far better than cure. The most effective way for employers to protect employees from contracting skin cancer is to provide sun safety measures in the workplace. Implementing a comprehensive sun protection program, which includes a range of simple protective measures, can prevent sun-related injuries and reduce the suffering and costs associated with skin cancer – including reduced productivity.
As part of its Be UV Aware campaign, Deb offers tools to help employers implement a suitable and successful sun safety policy to protect its workers.
Liked the article? Why not leave us a comment.