Sun and UV Protection for Employees
- Date: Friday 16th June 2017
- PDF: Download
Why employers should protect employees
The health and safety of employees is the main priority of any employer; no matter what industry they work in. Keeping employees safe from the sun will reduce the risk of them getting skin cancer, reduce the risk of sunburn and will result in fewer absence days as a result.
Solar radiation from the sun is classified as a group 1 carcinogen. The UV element of solar radiation can lead to premature ageing, wrinkles, sunburn and skin cancer if people don’t take precautions to minimise exposure. Control of UV exposure and minimising risks of exposure can prevent 90% of skin cancer deaths. As everybody has different skin types, the risks vary for everyone. Employers and employees alike should be aware of how exposure to UV radiation can affect them; those with lighter skin are more likely to burn whereas those with darker skin have a lower risk but are still susceptible to overheating and dehydration.
Harm caused by exposure
The most obvious sign of immediate reaction to the sun is tanning or sunburn. Most people don’t understand or realise how serious sunburn can affect you. Statistics show that getting sunburnt once every two years can triple the risk of melanoma. Malignant melanoma is the most aggressive and life-threatening skin cancer.
It is integral to ensure your team are safe in the sun, with 1,500 cases of work-related non-melanoma skin cancers registered a year. Non-melanoma cancer is less commonly fatal; the effects of treatment or minor surgery can have life-changing affects. Furthermore, once having a form of non-melanoma skin cancer, sufferers are then nine times more likely to get it again. According to the Occupational Cancer: Malignant Melanoma research summary completed by IOSH, 44% of skin cancer deaths and 42% of new registrations annually are attributed to the construction industry alone.
Whilst it may not be a common consideration when working on outside sites, it is important that employers keep their employees safe in the sun. There are plenty of ways for both employees and employers to ensure that everybody is maintaining health and safety standards. For any actions to be taken, all workers need to first be aware of issues connected with solar radiation and UV exposure.
It is often a misconception that using a high factor sunscreen alone can prevent harm to the skin. Avoiding outdoor work, minimising workers’ exposure to direct sunlight in the middle part of the day and providing shade during regular breaks can ensure people are protected. Employees should keep their tops on and wear hats that cover the ears and backs of necks.
After working in the sun, skin and moles should be checked regularly for any changes in shape, size, colour, itching or bleeding. Any signs of these or any cause for concern and the employee should go to a doctor for checks.
Furthermore, to ensure future protection is taken employers should include sun protection advice in routine health and safety training. our Toolbox Talk could help with this - please see link below. Ensuring that all employees are constantly drinking water to keep themselves hydrated throughout the day.
For more information, please contact our customer service team on 01752 201616.
Source: Chloe Phillips, SSG