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A crucial part of PPE

03 June 2019

With hours of sunshine and temperatures well above average, the summer of 2018 was one of the hottest on record. To find out if last summer changed attitudes toward UV protection, SC Johnson Professional surveyed outdoor workers from a range of sectors.

THE RESULTS generated were alarming. The survey showed that just 1 in 4 of those who worked outdoors wore protective sun cream last summer, despite the soaring temperatures. 

There are a range of risks that will be familiar to those in health and safety when it comes to working outside. In terms of protecting the skin, occupational dermatitis is one of the most widespread issues, but UV protection should also be one of the most important aspects of health and safety.

The statistics prove this and reflect a stark situation. Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the world, and a huge 1700 people are diagnosed with skin cancer as a direct result of occupational sun exposure in Britain every year1. Around 60 of these diagnosed cases are fatal2and an alarming 44% of occupational melanoma deaths can be attributed to construction workers3. Those working on the move or who spend a lot of time on the road are not exempt; UVA rays can penetrate glass windows, potentially leading to premature skin ageing.

With the survey results suggesting that 75% of employees who worked outdoors last summer skipped sun cream, the likelihood that many of those respondents experienced a painful sun burn as a result is high. The seriousness of this cannot be understated – a sunburn like this just once every two years can triple the risk of malignant melanoma4.

Just 16% of the survey respondents said that they would wear sun cream on cloudy days, despite most of these respondents being aware that UV rays could penetrate cloud. Yet when on holiday, 87% of respondents said they would wear sun cream, suggesting that a change in attitude is needed when it comes to workplace protection.

Further to this, 72% of respondents said they didn’t know as many as one death and five new cancers per week can be attributed to occupational exposure to UV radiation, leading to the conclusion that more awareness needs to be raised around these very serious statistics.

Good health and safety policies can help with this, and UV protection should be seen as an important part of your employee’s PPE. SC Johnson Professional’s survey also found that 87% of non-wearers of sun cream were not provided with any in the workplace, despite a legal requirement for UK employers to ensure that employees do not suffer harm or injury at work. 27% of people that did wear sun cream at work were provided it by their employer, demonstrating that simply providing access to sun cream on the job could have a positive impact.

UV levels are about to be at their highest point of the year, so it is crucial that your sun safety provision is up to scratch. When it comes to raising awareness, free resources are available and can be very effective tools when coupled with supplying appropriate product.

SC Johnson Professional recommends that employees adapt the 5 S approach to sun safety:

  1. SLIP on sun protective clothing – Encourage workers to keep covered up. Clothing can be one of the most effective barriers.

  2. SLOP on sun cream – Apply a broad spectrum, minimum SPF30 sun cream 20 minutes before initial exposure and re-apply every 2 hours or more frequently if sweating heavily. 

  3. SLAP on a hat and neck protection – Where possible choose a hat with ear and neck protection. 

  4. SLIDE on some sunglasses – Slide on a pair of high-quality wrap-around sunglasses to protect the eyes.

  5. SHADE from sun where possible – Encourage workers to take breaks or work in a shaded area wherever possible, especially from 11am-3pm.

Find out more information or request a free consultation on SC Johnson Professional’s website: https://www.debgroup.com/uk/UV.


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