Working in the sun could lead to around one death and around five cases of melanoma per week.
Skin cancers are on the rise in Ireland and are much more common in outdoor workers than those who work indoors. These include construction workers, farmers, An Garda Síochána, firefighters, agricultural and horticultural workers, fishermen, gardeners, postal workers, council workers, refuse collectors and couriers all involve moving around outdoors and often must be done during daylight hours. Making these workers especially vulnerable to the harmful effects of UVA damage that increases the risk of skin cancers and accelerates skin aging. Yet employers are often poor at taking preventative measures or for providing employees with a clear sun-protection policy.
Skin cancer is the most common cancer in Ireland, and we’re the 14th most susceptible nation in the world for skin cancer, with 16% of those diagnosed dying. According to the Irish Cancer Society one in four (23%) deaths from skin cancer in Ireland are from those in the construction, outdoor and farming industries.
Research has shown that certain sun-protective practices, such as staying in the shade and remaining indoors during peak sun hours, aren’t always possible for outdoor employees. Outdoor employees such as construction workers and farmers don’t fully realise the risk of getting skin cancer, the onus is on employers to implement a sun protection policy and explain the reason for the policies’ to workers. It is an employer’s responsibility to provide workers with appropriate PPE to protect workers from the sun such as hats, sunglasses, Workwear and most importantly a high factor sun cream.
Employer Protective Measures
• If possible, plan outdoor work in sunny weather to limit duration and intensity of employee exposure to direct sunlight (1100 to 1500 sun rays are most intense)
• Limit duration of exposure if possible when UV index is high (3 or above), do indoor work if possible
• Provide shade if possible
• Give information to employees about dangers of sun exposure
• Inform employees about the Sun Smart code
• Educate and encourage employees to self-check skin for signs of skin cancer
• Check UV index, if 3 or above greater risk www.cancer.ie/reduce-your-risk/sunsmart/uv-index
• Ensure breaks are taken out of direct sunlight
• Encourage employees to cover up, keep clothing on with sleeves down and collars up, wear clothing with high ultraviolet protection factor (UPF), 15 or more, wear hat
• Ensure employees do not strip off clothing when it is sunny
• Provide sun glasses
• Provide sun screen, SPF of at least 30 and UVA label on bottle
Sun Smart Code
• Seek some shade where possible
• Slip on some clothes
• Wear sunglasses
• Use sunscreen
• Know the UV index
Outdoor workers are not the only ones at risk of skin damage from harmful UV rays. Truck drivers and anyone that drives for a living are more likely to have sun damage on the right side of their faces from exposure to UVA rays transmitted through the window. And office workers who sit near windows or glass ceilings may also get excessive exposure to UV light, depending on what the windows are made of and whether they’re treated to screen out UV.
So what’s next?
What’s needed is a step-change in awareness of the damaging effects of UVA all year round, not just during summer holidays. If your job requires you to spend a lot of time outdoors—or you get significant sun exposure from an untreated office skylight or other source- use the same protective steps you would if you were spending the day at the beach. Wear protective clothing, a hat with a brim, and sunglasses—either provided by your company or purchased yourself—and cover exposed skin with a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF of 30 or higher. Reapply every two hours, or more often if you sweat heavily.
For more information on our Deb Stokoderm Sun Protect range of products and support material talk to our expert team – email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone (01) 6301800.
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