The World Health Organization confirmed that the incidence of both non-melanoma and melanoma skin cancers has been increasing over the past decades. Currently, between 2 and 3 million skin cancers occur globally each year. One in every three cancers diagnosed is a skin cancer and more than 65,000 people worldwide die from melanoma each year. Outdoor workers, particularly construction workers, are at a very high risk of damaging sun exposure.
Based on a field study conducted in Australia, construction workers can be exposed to 10 times the recommended daily UV exposure levels. Other high-risk target industries include horticultural, forestry, telecommunications, maritime sector, postal workers and road workers.
The most effective way for workers to protect themselves from contracting skin cancer is to practice sun safety when outdoors. A new survey commissioned by Deb Group, and conducted online by Harris Poll among U.S. adults ages 18 and older who work outdoors at least half the time, determines how often outdoor workers wear sunscreen at work. The study found that only 18 percent of outdoor workers always wear sunscreen at work.
“There are very real dangers associated with sun exposure that are often overlooked in the workplace,” said Isabelle Faivre, Vice President of Marketing, Deb North America. “Outdoor workers are at a higher risk of developing skin cancer and other ailments related to increased sun exposure. Organizations should educate outdoor workers on proper sun protection and provide sunscreen for use daily.”
The study found that more than half (58 percent) of outdoor workers say they always or sometimes see a need to wear sunscreen at work. However, 71 percent of outdoor workers say their employers don’t provide sunscreen to them for use at work. Perhaps that is why 59 percent of outdoor workers always or sometimes bring their own sunscreen to work.
Employers have a duty of care to protect their employees from hazards in the workplace and UV radiation is considered an occupational hazard for people who work outdoors.
Some guidelines employers can implement to mitigate UV exposure are as follows:
-Encourage workers to keep covered up. Clothing can be one of the most effective barriers.
-Remind workers to use sunscreen with a minimum 30 SPF on all unprotected areas of the body.
-Where possible choose a broad brimmed hat with ear and neck protection.
-Slide on quality wrap-around sunglasses.
-Encourage workers to take breaks in the shade and work in a shaded area wherever possible, but remind them that they still need to be protected in the shade.
Protecting your workforce from UV radiation is vital and should be a part of your routine health and safety training.
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