Skin cancer risks revealled

Skin cancer risks revealled

A new study from Heriot-Watt University reveals the increased skin cancer risk for outdoor construction workers

Excessive exposure to ultra- violet (UV) radiation from the sun in the summer can cause skin cancer, and in Britain there are around 1,500 new cases of non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC) each year, caused by exposure to solar UV at work.

Little is known about the magnitude of UV exposure amongst outdoor construction workers in Britain, meaning 3.1 million workers might be at risk.

The key findings of a study from Heriot-Watt University titled ‘Exposure to solar UV during outdoor construction work in Britain‘ is shining some light on the issue:

  • Outdoor construction workers in Britain who worked more than about 30 years could have a doubling of risk for SCC* (squamous cell carcinoma) and those working outdoors for more than about 40 years could have a doubling of risk for BCC** (basal cell carcinoma).
  • Someone who worked in an outdoor job in Britain for about 30 to 40 years with an annual exposure of around 200 SED (standard erythema dose) on unprotected skin would accumulate around 6,000 to 8,000 SED. This could lead to a doubling in risk for SCC and BCC.
  • Outdoor workers are four times more likely to be risk of getting erythema compared to indoor workers

“We suggest that construction employers need to take a more proactive approach to managing sun safety and enforce the use of necessary protective measures, both personal protection and modification of work processes to minimise exposure. The regulator should have a stronger role in promoting a risk-based management approach to UV”

To support the study, please find attached some key terminology.

For further information on Heriot-Watt University visit

*Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) starts in the cells lining the top of the epidermis and accounts for about 20 in every 100 skin cancers.

**Basal cell carcinoma (BCC), also known as a rodent ulcer, starts in the cells lining the bottom of the epidermis and accounts for about 75 in every 100 skin cancers.

For further information on skin cancers visit

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