Stay safe in the sun at work | Solar radiation

The majority of us associate sun protection with a day at the beach or a sunshine holiday, but the reality is that the risks to holiday-makers are nothing compared to the dangers faced by our outdoor landscape workers.

Throughout the UK many fail to protect themselves against sun exposure and just over 40 per cent thought there was no need to wear sunscreen on a cloudy day. No wonder then that cases of skin cancer generally are rising faster in the UK than in the rest of Europe.

Gavin Jones staff are provided with protective clothing, sunscreen and sheltered areas for breaks. We also educate our staff on how to protect themselves throughout the year through frequent tool box talks which can be personalised to each site. Skin cancer is an avoidable disease. 90 per cent of skin cancer deaths could be prevented if exposure to UV is controlled. Tackling solar radiation exposure is not necessarily costly and can be relatively easy to achieve

The NHS have launched a campaign ‘Cover Up Mate’ which the Gavin Jones group are actively supporting throughout all areas of the business. The following content has been taken from the NHS website:

‘Latest statistics from Cancer Research show that since the late 1970s, skin cancer incidence rates have more than quadrupled (360% increase) in Great Britain. The increase is larger in males where rates have increased more than six-fold (544% increase), than in females where rates have more than tripled (263% increase).

Latest statistics from Public Health England show that in the South West there was a 31.9% rise in incidence of malignant melanoma between 2009 and 2014, from 1,444 cases to 1,906 cases. There was also a 14.5% rise in mortality from malignant melanoma, from 248 deaths in 2009 to 284 deaths in 2014.

In the South East there was a 32.9% rise in incidence of malignant melanoma between 2009 and 2014, from 2,002 cases to 2,661 cases. There was also a 20.3% rise in mortality from malignant melanoma, from 349 deaths in 2009 to 420 deaths in 2014.

Many local areas across the South have higher rates of malignant melanoma than the national average.’

NHS England South West Medical Director Caroline Gamlin said:

“Being outdoors is clearly crucial for farmers, builders, gardeners, Post Office workers and others, and for people who take part in a lot of outdoor sport, but there are simple steps can be taken to lower the risk of skin cancer and be sun safe.

“Men in particular need to take much more care. They need to use at least factor 15 sunscreen and apply it generously on all exposed skin – not forgetting their necks, ears and bald patches!”

Sunburn increases your risk of skin cancer which can develop slowly over time. So while sunburn might feel better in a few days, it may have done long term damage which could be fatal.

“We owe it to ourselves and our families to take the risk of skin cancer seriously and above all if we are bothered by something to not dismiss it, but get it checked out.”