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Survey reveals poor UV awareness

14 July 2021

AS WE approach the hottest months of the year, it is key that awareness is raised around the potential dangers of over-exposure to UV radiation, among both employees and health and safety professionals.

Britain sees 1,700 people diagnosed every year with skin cancer as a direct cause of occupational sun exposure1. Despite growing awareness of the risk of unprotected UV exposure, a study conducted by SC Johnson Professional found that 76% of UK health and safety professionals were unaware of the danger, stating that they did not know that 1 death and 5 new cases of skin cancer per week in Britain could be attributed to occupational UV exposure2.

Building on studies conducted in 2017 and 2019 with outdoor workers, SC Johnson Professional last year surveyed health and safety officials at UK companies, with 114 participating. Among the key findings, 1 in 3 health and safety professionals stated that their organisation did not provide any UV protection to outdoor workers. Despite still leaving a third of the workforce vulnerable, outdoor workers themselves painted a starker picture: 2 in 3 said their organisation did not provide UV protection to them in the 2019 survey.

Lack of provision may be due to the fact that 40% of these professionals claimed that employees provided their own UV protection. This result was despite the Health and Safety at Work Act, which states that every employer has a legal duty to safeguard, as far as is reasonably practical, the health of their employees. According to Health and Safety Executive (HSE) guidelines, UV radiation should be considered an occupational hazard for those who work outdoors3.

Despite this, in its 2019 survey SC Johnson Professional discovered that 87% of non-wearers of sun cream stated that there was no UV protection product made available in their workplace. Of those who did use sun cream however, only 27% were provided with product by their employer.

Taking the survey insights on board, SC Johnson Professional developed a suite of easy-to-use training resources, specifically designed for employees who work outdoors and for health and safety professionals to implement as part of a skin care training programme. The training highlights in particular the ‘5 S approach’ – slip, slop, slap, slide and shade – an approach which can significantly contribute to the prevention of excessive UV exposure.

Find out more about SC Johnson Professional’s products or download training material here: https://www.scjp.com/en-gb/uv-sun-protection