This year, IOSH is backing a campaign to raise awareness of occupational cancers. The No Time To Lose campaign is currently focusing on skin cancer, and they have recently published a study which reveals the number of people in the UK diagnosed with or dying from the deadliest form of skin cancer because of sun exposure at work.
They estimate that in the UK, every week a person dies from malignant melanoma from sun exposure at work, with 240 new cases also being registered per year. Combining these findings with other recent studies into work-related non-melanoma skin cancer reveals that in the UK on average five people per day are being diagnosed with a form of skin cancer contracted at work.
IOSH states that “The research has given businesses the first full picture of the skin cancer burden on those working outdoors in industries as diverse as construction, agriculture and leisure and entertainment”.
The problem of excess sun exposure is widespread. It is estimated that in the UK 5.5 million people have been exposed to solar radiation through their work – particularly in the service industries, construction sector, manufacturing and agriculture.
Sadly, people are often disinclined to take the risks of sun exposure seriously, but if employers understand what a serious issue it is, they can use their influence to make cultural changes within their business.
The campaign urges employers to develop ‘sun safety strategies’ including, for example, consulting the UV index, making plans to minimise sun exposure around the middle of the day, and encouraging employees who work outdoors to wear long-sleeved, loose-fitting tops and trousers. They emphasise that using high-factor sunscreen is helpful, but should not be relied upon as the only strategy.
For assistance with a range of occupational health matters, including risk assessments and employee health programmes, contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0141 244 0181