Why Construction Workers Need To Understand the Risks of Sun Exposure

According to a recent study published in the British Journal of Cancer, construction work has been revealed as the most at risk occupation for developing skin cancer.

Construction workers accounted for 21 deaths (44%) and 101 cases of malignant melanoma. The sun is a health hazard for all outdoor workers, and exposure to the sun’s UV rays whilst working leads to one death and five new cases of malignant melanoma each week.

Dr Lesley Rushton, lead researcher, said: “We’ve shown previously that people often don’t understand the risks of damage caused by the sun in the UK. But this research shows you don’t have to work in the Mediterranean or a traditionally sunny country for the sun to damage your skin.”

People often do not think of the sun in the UK as damaging, and reserve sun screen application for holidays abroad. With the findings revealing such shocking statistics, we uncover what needs to be done to help prevent skin damage:

How can construction workers prevent sun damage?

Sarah Williams, health information manager at Cancer Research UK, said: “We all need some sun for healthy bones, but too much can increase the risk of skin cancer, and the risk can be higher for some people.”

It is important to get to know your body, including any moles, and to consult a doctor if you notice any changes to how your skin looks or feels.

“Generally, the best ways for people to protect their skin is to spend time in the shade between 11am and 3pm, and cover up with clothing. Also use sunscreen with at least SPF15 and four or more stars on the parts of the body you can’t cover, like face and hands,” said Williams.

Over the counter sunscreen is effective, but an industrial strength sunscreen will be even more effective for a full day of sun exposure.  Industrial sunscreen covers a broad spectrum and contains zinc oxide, and is strong enough to last all day.

Construction workers already have many safety precautions to consider before starting any job, such as falling debris or machine malfunctions, yet the dangers of the sun are sometimes overlooked.

If construction workers do not take appropriate precautions, being out in the sun too much creates working conditions that pose a risk of serious harm.

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