Findings from a recent Imperial College London study have shown that one death and around five new cases of malignant melanoma – the most dangerous kind of skin cancer – are being caused every week by outdoor working.
They showed that construction workers had the highest number of deaths, followed by agricultural workers. Around one in ten deaths occur to those working in the public sector.
This is a major issue facing our workforce that employers, and those working outdoors, must act now to tackle.
As part of its No Time To Lose occupational cancer campaign, the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health has lots of guidance, stats and resources to help keep people safe in the sun.
For those working outdoors (and not just in blazing sunshine – prolonged exposure even on dull days can have an effect) I implore you to follow the advice. I can understand the view that “it’ll never happen to me”, but the bare facts show that this just isn’t true – it can happen to anyone who works in the outdoors.
Make sure to cover up with long, loose clothing, protect your head, face, ears and neck, seek shade and come out of the sun whenever possible during the most powerful UV periods between 10am-3pm, use sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher on exposed skin, and report mole changes or any other concerns about your skin to your doctor as soon as possible. Drink plenty of water on warmer days to avoid dehydration.
In the meantime, researchers from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh and the Institute of Occupational Medicine have launched a study to assess whether a text messaging system and smartphone app can help employees to make better choices about sun safety, and are looking for construction firms and workers to take part.
If you or your company would be interested in helping out, then please contact me on [email protected]
Dr Karen McDonnell, occupational safety and health policy adviser
Posted: 1/20/2017 3:37:04 PM