Workers Skin Cancer Warning
Posted: 16 June 2006
With summer now upon us, outdoor workers and their employers have again been warned about the dangers of excessive exposure to sunlight.
Despite regular campaigns warning people of the risks of long periods of exposure to the sun, skin cancer rates are still rising. There are now more than 7,300 cases of malignant melanoma the deadliest form of skin cancer diagnosed in the UK each year, with 1,700 deaths annually.
Rates of malignant melanoma are rising faster than any other type of cancer and, according to Cancer Research UK, they are set to treble in the next 30 years if current trends in reckless exposure to the suns harmful rays are not reversed. Even if people do change their behaviour, the incidence rates are still set to double because of the amount of sun exposure people have already had.
Research into skin cancer prevalence in the UK showed that cases were still more common in the over 50s but the disease was attacking younger people more often as each decade passed. It is now the second most common cancer in people aged 15 to 34.
A simple risk assessment involving the workforce can quickly identify straightforward measures which should be introduced to reduce the risk of exposure.
Measures should include:
- planning tasks to avoid being outdoors at the hottest time of the day
- job rotation
- provision of adequate headgear and loose clothing
- provision of shade
- usage of sun cream with a sun protection factor of at least 15 (SPF15).
Workers, particularly those with a family history of skin cancer or those with moles and freckles should be encouraged to take extra care and report any concerns they may have.
Signs to watch out for include a mole getting bigger, a mole with a ragged outline or one with a mixture of different shades of brown and black. If a mole gets inflamed or starts to bleed or itch, get it checked out.