The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), the world’s largest professional health and safety organisation, has launched the No Time to Lose campaign, which is working to raise awareness of work-related cancers in the UK and internationally.
Why the focus on work-related cancer? Because across the world, the number of people dying from a work-caused cancer far outstrips those dying because of work accidents. It’s estimated that at least 666,000 people die worldwide every year from work-related cancers.
One cancer that can be work-related is skin cancer. By 2015, there were 85,000 Canadians diagnosed with skin cancer. And people who work outside are 2.5-3.5 times more likely to develop skin cancer than other people.
As part of the campaign, IOSH has simple measures that employers and workers can use to control the risks of exposure to solar radiation, which causes skin cancer, including:
- Checking the UV index and communicating information to relevant workers while prompting staff to use protective measures to minimise exposure. Action should be taken when the index is at three or above.
- Avoiding outdoor work or minimising exposure to direct sunlight in the middle part of the day (60% of daily UV radiation occurs between 10:00 am and 2:00 pm. Many advise minimising exposure until at least 3:00 pm).
- Regularly swapping job tasks between workers to make sure everyone on the team can spend some time in the shade.
- Using a heavy duty cover or shade when working outdoors in the sun.
- Ensuring rest breaks are taken in shaded areas or indoors. Placing water points in shaded areas or indoors can help encourage breaks to be taken out of the sun.
- Wearing long-sleeved, loose-fitting tops and pants when working outdoors.
- Wearing wide-brimmed hats that shade the face, head, ears and neck. If safety helmets are worn, use those fitted with Legionnaire-style neck flaps.
- Wearing sunglasses with 100% UV.
- Using high-factor sunscreen along with other protective measures.
- Encouraging workers to check their skin for changes to moles or other changes.
- Holding training sessions to raise awareness of solar radiation issues with workers.
The OHS Insider has these tools and other resources you can use to protect workers at risk of developing skin cancer:
- A model sun safety policy
- A skin cancer self-assessment checklist
- A handout on the risks of sun exposure
- A sun safety poster
- A Summer Health & Safety Hazards Infographic
- A quiz workers can take to determine their risk of developing skin cancer based on factors such as their colouring, family history of skin cancer and whether they tan or burn.