When you see the words “employee safety”, what comes to mind? Odds are that sun safety is not something that comes to mind first. In fact, most employers do not think about the sun safety of their employees. While we often think of sun exposure coming from long periods of time at the beach or pool, it can also add up day after day being outdoors on the job. In as little as 15 minutes, Ultra Violet (UV) rays from the sun can damage skin and increase the risk of skin cancer for your employees.
Skin cancer occurs when cells in the body grow uncontrollably, starting in the skin. An estimated 1 in 5 people will get skin cancer—that means 1 in 5 of your employees are likely to get skin cancer in their lifetime. Skin cancer can have life threatening consequences as well as large expenses. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Americans lose over $100 million in productivity each year due to restricted activity or work absence associated with this disease.
Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States. The good news is that it is preventable. As an employer, you can help! July is UV Safety Month and is the perfect time of year to promote sun safety among your employees.
What can I, an employer, do to promote sun safety at work?
Employers can take steps to encourage employees to protect their skin in a variety of ways, including:
- Incorporate sun safety into workplace policies and training. For example, include education on exposure risk, skin cancer prevention, and the signs and symptoms of overexposure to the sun.
- Supply company vehicles or worksites with sunscreen that has a minimum SPF of 15 for employees to use at all times. Other types of sun protection to encourage using include protective clothing, sunglasses, and hats.
- Set up work schedules that help reduce sun exposure. For example, allow outdoor tasks to be completed in the morning or evening to avoid the strongest UV rays. Also, train employees on how to use the UV index to adjust their time outdoors when UV levels are high.
- Ensure shade is provided at outdoor worksites by using tents, shelters, or cooling stations.
How can my organization help raise awareness about skin cancer?
Whether it’s summer or not, employers can take steps to promote skin cancer prevention throughout the year. Below are some suggestions:
- Post flyers on workplace doors to remind workers to apply sunscreen or take other precautions to protect themselves from the sun before heading outdoors.
- Provide information on sun safety including education on the A-B-C-D-E’s (asymmetrical, border, color, diameter, and evolving) of skin cancer signs.
- Promote early detection and treatment for skin cancer. Collaborate with a local health organization to provide an onsite skin cancer screening. There are also many search tools available online to find free skin cancer screening events in your area. Encourage employees to participate by offering a reward or allowing participation during working hours.
Interested in additional ways to promote sun safety and skin cancer prevention?
Well Nation® can help. Partnering with the right wellness company can impact your organization’s overall wellness while reducing healthcare costs. Through our comprehensive suite of easy-to-use resources and tools, Well Nation® leads the way to engaging employees with their knowledge of cancer prevention.