Experts Issue Warning Over Work-Related Skin Cancer Deaths

Exposure To Sun At Work Responsible For Almost 50 Deaths A Year


Skin cancer caused by exposure to the sun while at work is responsible for nearly 50 deaths every year, experts have warned.

Related research also found that 250 new cases of malignant melanoma are registered each year from people working outdoors.

Construction, leisure and entertainment, and agriculture were found to be the worst-affected industries.

A further study, carried out by the Institution of Occupational Safety (IOSH), found that attitudes towards sun safety in the construction sector were poor, with two-thirds of workers who spent an average of seven hours a day outdoors not aware they were at risk.

More than half (59%) of those surveyed by IOSH reported having had sunburn – a major contributor to skin cancer – at least once in the last year. Many were unaware that cloud cover did not provide adequate protection from the sun.

The study is part of IOSH's No Time To Lose campaign aimed at preventing work-related cancers. Businesses are being urged to develop sun safety strategies to minimise sun exposure.

IOSH executive director of policy Shelley Frost said: "We've a clear picture for the UK now of the number of people diagnosed with or dying from skin cancer because of sun exposure at work.

"It's a terrible disease but with some simple measures we can ensure people who work outside are not exposed to the solar radiation that causes it.

"Work-related skin cancer is avoidable but businesses and their employees hold the key to beating it and today we are showing them how it can be done."

Expert Opinion
Workers in many industries, including most notably the construction sector, have to carry out projects outdoors and it is vital that they are fully aware of all potential risks.

“However, while the risk of skin cancer is one which is very different to putting the correct training and ensuring the availability of the right equipment, so we would urge employers to ensure they provide plenty of advice on the issue.

“An early diagnosis is absolutely vital for any type of cancer to ensure that each patient gets fast and effective treatment to fight this disease and hopefully lead to an increased survival rate for those suffering from skin cancer.

“Health and safety must always be a priority for businesses, but sadly we see cases where the negligence of employers has led workers to suffer injury and illness.
Mark Allen, Associate Director