Third of outdoor workers don’t use sunscreen

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Employers of outdoor workers have been urged to provide staff with high-protection sun cream, after a survey revealed a third did not use sun protection on the job at all during the record-breaking summer of 2018.

Only a quarter of outdoor workers used sun cream regularly while at work last year. Of these, almost three-quarters did not wear sun cream on cloudy days, despite 80% of UV radiation being able to pass through the clouds.

Of those who said they never applied sunscreen at work, two-thirds considered it too much effort to do so. Only 13% of these said their employer gave them access to sun cream.

The poll of around 140 outdoor workers by SC Johnson Professional also discovered a lack of awareness of the health risks UV radiation can present. More than three-quarters of respondents were not aware that one in five cancer diagnoses per week can be attributed to occupational exposure to solar radiation in the UK.

SC Johnson Professional is calling on organisations to provide outdoor workers with sunscreen, in the same way as they would provide personal protective equipment for other occupational hazards, such as falls from height or fires.

It recommended providing staff with SPF30 sunscreen as a minimum and offer toolbox talks, awareness posters and educational guides to highlight the importance of sun protection.

Marketing director Paul Jakeway said: “Our survey has revealed some concerning statistics around sun protection amongst outdoor workers and has indicated that the seriousness of harmful UV rays is still being underestimated by both workers and managers.

“While some respondents were simply unaware of UV risks, others misunderstood the risks or were unclear on the role they have to play in keeping themselves and others safe.”

A recent Institution of Occupational Safety and Health study found more than 1,500 new diagnoses of non-melanoma skin cancer and 240 new cases of malignant melanoma linked to UV radiation exposure at work every year could be avoided if firms developed “sun safety strategies”.

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