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Occupational UV Exposure is a Growing Risk for Outdoor Workers

Occupational UV Exposure is a Growing Risk for Outdoor Workers
07 July 2021

A survey of health and safety managers found that 76 per cent of UK health & safety professionals were unaware that one death and five new cases of skin cancer per week in Britain could be attributed to occupational UV exposure.

Overexposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays is the leading cause of melanoma skin cancers in the UK. As melanoma cases are rising faster than any other common cancer, safety company Arco, is raising awareness of the risks for outdoor workers and the responsibility employers have in taking an active role in helping to protect their workforce.


Hidden Dangers in UK Cloudy Weather


There is a common misconception that the weather in the UK is not sunny enough to pose a high risk of skin cancer to outdoor workers. However, up to 80 per cent of dangerous UV rays still get through light cloud and the strength of solar radiation is not connected to temperature. Workers are also often unaware that they are at risk of developing skin cancer, resulting in many not applying sun protection even if it has been provided.

Getting painful sunburn just once every two years can triple the risk of melanoma skin cancer. It is vital employers understand their responsibility and legal duty of care when protecting their workers from UV radiation.

The Health and Safety at Work Act requires every employer to ensure the health of their employees as far as reasonably practical. Employers are also obligated to provide information, instruction, training, and supervision to ensure workers’ safety.

Employers need to do more than provide sun cream to their staff. Greater education, training and ongoing compliance can help protect outdoor workers who face ten times more sun exposure than indoor workers every year.

Nick Foort, Workplace Skincare Specialist at Arco, says, “90 per cent of all occupational skin cancer deaths are preventable. It is vital employers put the right precautions in place to protect their workers before they end up paying the ultimate price.”

Picture: a photograph of a construction worker wearing a hard hat. The person is working outside in the sunshine

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 07 July 2021


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