Recent research at Imperial College London has shown that builders, policemen, farmers and members of the armed forces are at a higher risk of developing the most lethal type of skin cancer – malignant melanoma.
Statistics show that every week working outdoors provokes five new cases of skin cancer and one death. Despite the fact that this is only a small number of cases that are being diagnosed every year, it is alarming that many people often do not understand the risks associated with regular exposure to sunlight. But now, when there is a clearer idea of the extent of the damage, employers should consider how to reduce this damage, and people should weigh all the pros and cons before agreeing to such work. The data obtained showed that about 15,400 new cases of malignant melanoma and 2500 deaths are diagnosed every year in the UK. Scientists have calculated that of them 241 cases of the disease and 48 deaths are caused by work in the sun
So who is responsible for effective skin protection? The answer is an employee and the Health & Safety Manager as both needs to understand the risk that working outside poses.
The key to combatting skin cancer for outdoor workers is by changing their attitude on the protection of their skin through education and training, whilst also providing employees with effective solutions.
For outdoor workers who spend the majority of their day outside, it is also recommended that a high Sun Protection Factor (SPF) is used – either SPF30 or SPF50 is advised. Sunscreens with a lower SPF such as SPF15 will only be able to filter out 93% of incoming UVB rays, whereas SPF30 and SPF50 sunscreens are able to filter out 97% and 98% of all incoming rays respectively (Skincancer.org)
Through implementing training for all employees, and introducing sunscreen dispensers and the relevant educational material, Health & Safety Managers will not only ensure that workplaces contain more informed employees, but they will also be healthier, happier and will have minimised their risk of being diagnosed with skin cancer.
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Disclaimer: The information provided through Greenham Pulse is for general guidance only and is not legal advice. Greenham Pulse is not a substitute for Health and Safety consultancy. You should seek independent advice about any legal matter.