When the sun makes an appearance, we all enjoy the opportunity to sit down in the garden and feel the warmth upon our faces. But even such a simple pleasure can come at a cost to our health.

Cases of skin cancer are increasing yet the simple fact is that it is quite easily avoidable – if we take steps to protect ourselves.

Sunlight is the main cause of ultraviolet radiation and the more you are exposed to the harmful rays, the greater the risk of skin cancer. Like any other hazard, employers are under a duty to protect their employees from UV radiation.

A study published in 2011 estimated that 86% of melanomas in the UK (around 11,100 cases every year) are linked to too much exposure to sunlight and sunbed use.

This isn’t a definitive list but people with the following characteristics need to take extra care:

  • fair skin that burns easily
  • lots of moles and freckles
  • a history of sunburn or having had significant exposure throughout life
  • red or fair hair
  • light coloured eyes
  • a family history of skin cancer

In addition, people who spend a lot of time outside – construction workers and gardeners amongst many others – will need to be extra cautious.

Follow these steps (A-C-E) to protect your skin:

A – be Aware – of the UV weather forecast for your area – if it’s at high levels then you need to take precautions.

C – Cover Up – with loose fitting long sleeved tops, trousers and skirts, wear UV sunglasses; and condition (sun-screen) your skin, choose at least a factor 30. Factor 50 is even better. Also use high factor creams on areas that are difficult to protect e.g. hands and face.

E – Exposure – keep out of the sun particularly between 10am – 2pm when 60% of UV radiation occurs. Keep in the shade if possible, but if you can’t, then choose a wide brimmed hat that will protect the head, face, ears and neck.

Employers need to be aware that they have a duty to protect their employees. Please contact us if you need further advice.

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