Katie Prestidge, from Marley Eternit, discusses why sun safety on site is crucial…
New research has found working in construction puts you at greater risk of skin cancer than any other occupation.
The study, which appeared in the British Journal of Cancer, looked at the risks of skin cancer and outdoor occupations and estimated there are 48 deaths and 241 cases of melanoma skin cancer each year caused by ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun at work.
Construction workers accounted for a staggering 44 per cent of these deaths, followed by agricultural workers (23 per cent) and police and defence workers (10 per cent).
Roofers are thought to be up to nine times more likely to get skin cancer than other workers. Yet, 90 per cent of all skin cancer deaths are preventable, so protection is crucial.
But, while most people are careful about applying sun cream when they are abroad on holiday, many wouldn’t necessarily think of taking the same precautions when spending seven hours outside in the summer at work.
Research by the Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) and the University of Nottingham found the majority of construction workers didn’t think they were at risk of skin cancer and 59 per cent reported having sunburn at least once in the year.
It is important to be more aware of UV levels, even on cloudy days, and get employees to do the same. Checking the UV index on the weather forecast, or on some of the available phone apps, is a good way to see the level of protection required.
Yet, this isn’t practical on site, so as part of this year’s Safe in the Sun campaign, Marley Eternit is providing free bottles of sun cream and UV colour changing wrist bands. The white silicone bands carry the Safe in the Sun message and change colour to red when continuously exposed to UV rays (to get yours, see details below).
Marley Eternit has the following Safe in the Sun advice to protect yourself:
1. Keep a shirt or jacket on and opt for tightly woven fabrics, which help to form a barrier to the sun’s harmful rays
2. Don’t leave exposed skin unprotected. Use sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 and reapply regularly
3. Wear a hard hat at all times, preferably with a brim and flap to cover the ears and back of the neck
4. Drink plenty of water and stay hydrated
5. Check your skin regularly for unusual spots and moles or changes to spots and moles
6. Wear a UV wristband, so that even when it is cloudy, you know when you need to use sunscreen and cover up
1. Ensure all workers are briefed on your sun safety procedures
2. Discuss the misconceptions around UV radiation and provide employees with our free wristbands and sun cream (see details below)
3. Swap job tasks between workers to make sure everyone spends some time in the shade if possible
4. Make sure rest breaks are taken in shaded areas
For more information on Marley Eternit click here.