As occupational skin cancer cases increase, safety experts warn employers of the risks of UV radiation, as two out of three workers are unaware they are at risk of skin cancer, resulting in many not applying protection whilst working outdoors.

Whilst exposure to UV radiation from the sun can happen all year round, the arrival of summer is a timely reminder of the serious risks to outdoor workers’ health. The sun’s UV rays are a carcinogen, the primary cause of skin cancer. Unfortunately, outdoor workers are often unaware of the risks of excessive UV exposure, which is responsible for over 60 worker deaths a year in the UK. With the right guidance and safety procedures in place, 90% of these deaths are preventable.

Most organisations believe they are already implementing sufficient measures to combat the risk of sun exposure. However, many workers do not follow protocol and lack sufficient training on the risks of working outdoors. There is a common misconception that the weather in the UK is not sunny enough to pose a high risk, however up to 90% of dangerous UV rays still get through light cloud and the strength of solar radiation is not connected to temperature. A lapse in sun safety practices and education puts workers at serious risk of illness and leaves companies open to potential litigation and fines.

Getting painful sunburn just once every two years can triple the risk of melanoma skin cancer. It is vital employers understand their responsibility and legal duty of care when protecting their workers from UV radiation. The Health and Safety at Work Act requires every employer to ensure the health of their employees, as far as reasonably practical. This means employers are obligated to provide information, instruction, training and supervision to ensure workers’ safety.

Responsible action is much more than simply providing sun cream. A change in culture and education levels allows for prevention and early detection of issues, such as skin cancer.

The Wilkins Safety Group, one of the UK’s leading health & safety consultancies, is actively engaged in raising sun safety awareness, providing expert advice and guidance on the necessary protective measures.

Jonathan Wilkins, Founder and CEO of Wilkins Safety Group, reports that: “In the UK there are over 1,500 new cases of non-melanoma skin cancer and 240 cases of malignant melanoma skin cancer every year. Sun safety is not optional and shouldn’t be treated as such.

“It is vital employers put the right precautions in place to protect their workers before it’s too late.”