Workers Urged to Protect Against Skin Cancer

Workers are being advised to take care when working outside during the warm weather because of the risks associated with exposure to solar radiation.

The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) is running a campaign called No Time to Lose to raise awareness of cancer-causing agents including solar radiation, and provide advice on managing the associated risks.

According to research by Imperial College London, an estimated 50 people die every year in the UK from malignant melanoma caused by exposure to solar radiation at work, and a further 240 new cases are registered.

As part of its campaign, IOSH has produced advice to help businesses and their employees follow simple measures which can be put in place to control the risks. Ways in which the risks can be minimised include:

  • Checking the UV index and communicating information to relevant workers, together with prompting staff to use protective measures to minimise exposure.
  • Avoiding outdoor work, or minimising exposure to direct sunlight in the middle part of the day (60% of daily UV radiation occurs between 10am and 2pm).
  • Regularly swapping job tasks between workers to make sure everyone on the team can spend some time in the shade.
  • Holding training sessions to raise awareness of solar radiation issues with workers.

“Just because someone works outdoors does not mean they should be put at risk of the effects of solar radiation,” said Kate Field, head of information and intelligence at IOSH. “Work-related skin cancer is avoidable, and employers and employees hold the key to beating it. There are many simple steps that they can take to control the risks. Taking these steps will protect not only the employer, but the business as well.”

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