The Leading News & Information Service For The Facilities, Workplace & Built Environment Community

Thursday, 9 April

Here Comes the Sun - Everything Should be Alright

Many outdoor workers are not sufficiently protected against harmful exposure to the sun writes Paul Jakeway who says educating your workforce on UV protection is important.

We all know that prolonged exposure to the sun can have harmful consequences - and we all know that there are simple ways of protection. That is why few people would go on a summer holiday without sun cream or spend hours and hours in the sun without protective clothing.

Yet, when it comes to the workplace, the same care and attention does not seem to exist. In fact, figures show that workers who are heavily exposed to the sun tend to neglect UV protection – often to a worrying degree. In the construction sector, for instance – where workers can spend up to seven hours a day outside – only 59 per cent regularly apply sun cream, according to an estimate by the IOSH No Time To Lose Solar Campaign.

The health risk is considerable. Unprotected exposure to the sun does not only cause sun burn and skin damage, it can ultimately lead to skin cancer. It is estimated that over 80 per cent of skin cancer cases are caused by overexposure to the sun. Naturally, outdoor workers run a much higher than average risk. IOSH estimates that every year, 1,700 people develop skin cancer from sun exposure at work. That is the equivalent of five people a day.

It would be easy to blame the neglect on employees – but that is only half the story. Employers have a Duty of Care to protect their employees from hazards in the workplace, and according to guidelines from the Health & Safety Executive, UV radiation should be considered an occupational hazard for people who work outdoors.

All too often, however, employers do not live up to this responsibility. In a study IOSH conducted in conjunction with the University of Nottingham, 70 per cent of employees said they had never received any training on the risks of working in the sun.


What can be done to improve this situation?

To raise UV awareness in the workplace, education is absolutely crucial. What are the risks of neglecting UV protection? What measures are there? Regularly applying sun cream, wearing protective clothing, taking breaks in the shade – all these have a role to play.

Regular presentations or staff meetings can help to turn UV protection into an ongoing conversation between employers and employees, while posters or freely available leaflets are a good way to raise awareness on a day-to-day level. Organisations such as the skin cancer charity Skcin have dedicated schemes to assist companies in their efforts.

According to IOSH, 90 per cent of skin cancers could be prevented if exposure to UV rays were controlled. This alone should encourage companies to take UV education and training seriously.

But costs are another aspect to keep in mind. As the HSE points out, employees affected by skin cancer can be an enormous burden for employers, who could be left with sickness, absence, recruitment, training and compensation expenses. The effort and money employers need to put into the establishment of a UV education and training programme are minimal – compared to what both employers and employees would gain.

Using the help and guidance provided by organisations dedicated to the issue, companies can take confident steps towards the ultimate aim - making UV protection in the workplace as natural as putting on sun cream before heading to the beach on your summer holiday.

By Paul Jakeway of skin care expert Deb

Article written by Paul Jakeway


Related Articles

Ultraviolet Protection Explained

We are warned before we go on holiday of the dangers of the sun and ultraviolet (UV) rays but more should be done to make outdoor workers aware of the risks and how to...

 Read Full Article
Swedish Chefs' Great Ikea...Sorry - Idea

Employers worldwide can reduce the costs of occupational musculoskeletal disorders by using a free online risk management tool created by ergonomic researchers at KTH...

 Read Full Article
2015/15 Stats Confirmed - 30.4 Million Working Days Lost

The HSE has confirmed and reported the accident, injury, ill health and fatality statistics for Great Britain. Key figures for Great Britain (2015/16): 1.3...

 Read Full Article
Horror Movie

A powerful new film, launched by the British Safety Council (BSC), shows how stress can lead to injury and fatalities at work. In any activity where concentration is...

 Read Full Article
Fact - Work Munch Bunch Not a Hunch

New research by a money saving website in the UK has discovered that over one-third of workers in Briton have to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner at work at least twice a...

 Read Full Article
Clean Air, Why We Should Care

Each year, more than 130 million workdays are lost in the UK due to sickness, costing employers a staggering £32 billion in lost productivity. And scientific...

 Read Full Article
Micromanagement Pressure Leads to Suicide

A worker for Staffordshire County Council was found to be under so much pressure from her management that she hanged herself according to a coroner’s...

 Read Full Article
When Work Makes You Cringe

A study by the TUC has found that someone experiences work-related stress every two minutes. The findings back up the current figures where workplace stress in the UK...

 Read Full Article
This Sporting Life Damages Health

The controversial employment practices of Sports Direct has come under the spotlight with news of ambulances being called to its warehouse ‘dozens of...

 Read Full Article
Stadiums of Unenlightenment

There has been a call for the richest football clubs in the English Premier league to improve accessibility following a Private Member’s Bill introduced by Lord...

 Read Full Article