Only 25 per cent of outdoor workers wore sun protection cream last summer

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  Posted by: electime      15th May 2019

For those who work outdoors, the statistics around skin cancer are shocking. 1700 people are diagnosed with skin cancer caused by occupational sun exposure in Britain every year, and shockingly, skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the world. A painful sunburn just once every two years can triple the risk of the deadliest form of skin cancer; malignant melanoma.

The risk that comes with outdoor and mobile work is evident, with a lot more time spent out and about, exposed to UV radiation. Some UV rays can also penetrate glass, which means that even inside your car or van, you are not completely protected.

Sunny days are often seen as a perk of the job for these workers – but when does UV exposure become a serious health risk, and are the above statistics hitting home? To investigate further, Swarfega surveyed outdoor and mobile workers – with some eye-opening results.

The skin care expert found that just 1 in 4 outdoor workers used sun cream regularly last summer. Those who did use it wore more due to the hot weather, but most of those who didn’t claimed that it was too much effort. So, does more need to be done to raise awareness?

Only 16 per cent of respondents said that they would wear sun cream on cloudy days, despite most knowing that UV rays could still pass through cloud. In stark contrast to behaviours at work, only 13 per cent of respondents stated that they would not use sun cream on holiday demonstrating awareness of the dangers of UV radiation, but not the risk posed whilst on the job.

UK employers are legally required to ensure that workers do not suffer harm or injury at work, but when it came to employer provision, 83 per cent of non-wearers were not provided with any sun cream at work.

A very small number of Swarfega’s respondents were unaware of how shocking the statistics are; 72 per cent said they didn’t know as many as one death and five new cancers per week can be attributed to occupational exposure to UV radiation. With the summer months up ahead, it is evident that both employers and employees need to further their understanding of the serious risks of UV radiation as well as the preventative measures that can be taken.

The 5S approach to Sun Safety

The good news is that skin cancer is one of the easiest to avoid – it’s estimated by IOSH that 90 per cent of skin cancer deaths could be prevented.

Swarfega recommend using the 5 S Approach to sun safety:

  1. SLIP on sun protection clothing – clothing can be one of the most effective barriers.
  2. SLOP on some sun cream – practical for exposed parts of the body. Apply a broad spectrum, high SPF sun cream 20 minutes before initial exposure and re-apply every 2 hours or more frequently if sweating heavily. Water resistant creams like the TOUGH by Swarfega cream are ideal.
  3. SLAP on a hat and neck protection.
  4. SLIDE on some sunglasses – high quality wrap-around sunglasses are ideal.
  5. SHADE from the sun when possible – take breaks or work in a shaded area wherever possible.

For more information on workplace skin care and UV protection, contact Swarfega today: swarfega@scj.com.