Warning on sun protection for outdoor workers

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Outdoor workers are being left in the dark about protection from the sun, putting them at risk from UV radiation, research by AXA PPP has found.

Among the 647 workers who spent more than half their time outdoors, 56% were unsure if their employer had a sun protection policy, while 16% work for companies that provide free sun cream and, 14% of outdoor workers surveyed use it. However, 44% think their employer should provide it for outdoor workers. The survey covered over 2000 workers overall.

Dr Steve Iley, AXA PPP's medical director for health services, highlighted a warning from the Health and Safety Executive that UV radiation should be considered an occupational hazard for those working outdoors.

He added, "Companies have a duty of care to safeguard their employees' health and safety and, as such, they need to regularly review their sun protection policies to ensure they're fit for purpose," Dr Iley continued.

"Employers also need to ensure that they educate their workers about the harmful effects of working outdoors without adequate sun protection and the protective measures they should take to minimise the risk. While outdoor workers may think that the danger from UV radiation has passed now that summer is drawing to a close, employers' policies should stress that sun safety guidance applies throughout the year."

Recent research by Cancer Research UK found that malignant melanoma is now the cancer with the fastest growing increase in the UK, whilst hospital admissions for skin cancer patients have risen by 41% in the past 5 years.

Dr Iley added, "Employers would also be wise to remind their indoor workers - especially those who enjoy lunching in the sunshine - of the risks of over exposure, particularly when the sun's rays are at their strongest.

"Having the right sun protection policies and procedures benefits employers in a number of ways, including fewer days of absence caused by sunburn, a healthier and better informed workforce and reduced risk to employees of skin cancer due to sun exposure."

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