It’s the hottest summer on record, so outdoor workers are being warned that they’re particularly at risk
From hard hats to hi-vis vests and sturdy boots – when it comes to working outdoors, most employees know they have to follow certain rules to stay safe.
But it’s feared many are unaware of one major risk which, left ignored, could have severe implications on their health.
And as it’s an issue that can affect any outdoor worker – from posties and police officers to construction teams and landscape gardeners – there are concerns over the potential scale of the problem.
Simply because of the outdoors nature of their jobs, people who spend their working days outside have been found to be at greater risk of developing skin cancer than indoors workers.
Worryingly, that’s against a background of an upwards trend in the number of UK skin cancer cases: figures have doubled every 10 to 20 years.
According to Sophie Petrie of Preston-based Key Engineering and Hygiene Supplies Ltd, which specialises in supplying protective creams, washroom cleansers, sanitisers and restore creams, it’s a problem many outdoor workers and employers overlook.
“Outdoor workers might pay particular attention to being seen, protecting their eyes, hearing and just generally staying safe, and not give a moment’s thought to the risks posed by the effects of the sun,” she said.
Skin cancer: who is at risk?
More than 12,000 cases of melanoma – the deadliest form of the skin cancer – are diagnosed every year in the UK, and over 2000 people will die from the disease this year alone.
Outdoor workers who have a close relative who has had melanoma or is particularly fair skinned and prone to burning instead of tanning, can be more at risk.
That’s because fairer skin has less pigmentation than darker skin, which means skin cells are more likely to be damaged in a manner that can lead to skin cancer.
And a person’s risk of developing melanoma doubles if they have been sunburnt five or more times in their life.
Construction workers need to be particularly wary, as the UV rays can reflect off concrete, metal and water, while welders are advised to wear sun cream to protect against UV radiation from a welding arc.
According to skin cancer charity Skcin, more than 80 per cent of all skin cancers are the result of over-exposure to harmful rays from the sun or sunbeds.
How to stay safe in the sun
Forget the idea that sun cream is just for days at the beach – particularly if you’re working out of doors.
The UV filters in sunscreens either absorb or scatter dangerous UV radiation and have to be applied liberally and regularly to be effective.
Using sun cream regularly during the working day provides protection from potentially harmful rays.
It’s also a good idea to stay covered up – no matter how hot it gets – wear a hat and seek out shade wherever possible.
To help outdoor workers stay safe, Key Engineering & Hygiene Supplies Ltd has joined forces with skin care developer, Deb, to raise awareness of the dangers.
Included in Deb’s range of industrial sun care products, is an all-in-one kit that provides a litre of high factor sun cream – either SPF 30 or SPF 50) – mirror, dispenser and information pack that offers vital advice on how to stay protected.
A key feature of the kit is the wall mounted dispenser, which enables workers to easily access cream and use it regularly.
A similar product is also being used in schools as a means of protecting children when they venture outdoors.