According to research from Imperial College London, an average of 241 cases of melanoma skin cancer a year are caused by over exposure to UV rays from the sun at work, which equates to five new cases a week.*
Experts from Public Health Liverpool and North West Cancer Research have teamed up to tackle these high numbers of work related skin cancer and have developed a toolkit for employers to raise awareness of the issue.
The advice includes covering up and using sun cream between May and September when the rays from the sun are strongest, paying particular attention to ears, necks and lips.
Employers are being encouraged to promote the use of sun protection and to provide protective clothing and sunscreen, as well as raise awareness of the symptoms of skin cancer and the importance of early diagnosis with employees.
The charity and Liverpool City Council are now hoping that businesses and organisations will sign up to the pledge, especially as temperatures hit record highs this summer.
Alastair Richards, CEO North West Cancer Research, said: “We may have become more risk averse on the beach, but it seems that we are not applying the same level of sun protection in the workplace.
“We already know that skin cancer rates are on the rise here in Liverpool and we want to ensure the messages relating to sun protection are reaching those most at risk and that includes people who work outdoors.
“Over exposure to UV rays can be harmful and we want employers and employees to get the message about the importance of wearing sun cream when at work, making it just as important as wearing a hard hat or high vis vest.”
Cabinet member for adult health, Cllr Paul Brant, said: “We’re all well aware of the importance of putting on sun cream when we go on holiday or to the beach, but studies show that people don’t protect themselves when they are working outside.
“We want people to get the message that sun cream is no different to putting on a hard hat and gloves or any other form of protective clothing. It is there to protect you from the risks associated with doing your job.”
Sandra Davies, Director of Public Health, said: “Tackling skin cancer is one of our priorities and we know that people who work outdoors often don’t realise the risk they are exposing themselves to.
“If you work outdoors you can spend literally hours in the sun every day so it is really important to make sure you are protected. Even if it is cloudy, you are still at risk of the damage the sun can do.”
“Contrary to popular belief, there is no such thing as a healthy tan and you are not protected if you already have a tan. If your skin goes red it is a sign the cells have been damaged by too much UV radiation.”
The employer’s pledge forms part of North West Cancer Research’s #suncreamselfie campaign which is reminding people across the North West about the dangers of over exposure to harmful UV rays.
It is also educating people about the early warning signs of skin cancer and the importance of visiting their GP as soon as they have any concerns.
The charity is urging people all over the North West to get creative when applying sun cream, take a selfie and upload it to social media with the hash tag #suncreamselfie.