When it comes to sun safety and protecting against skin cancer and melanoma, we all know that staying out of the sun during the hottest part of the day makes good sense. However, what can we do if working outdoors is part of our daily life? Here is some practical advice for HR managers, for whom worker safety needs to include the dangers of skin cancer.
Sun protection policy
The first thing to do is to implement a sun protection policy, or update the one you may already have. Make sure it is reviewed regularly and ensures that everyone is safe. You also need to be sure that sub-contractors are aware of the policy, as well as your regular members of staff.
When being outside in full sunlight can’t be avoided then it is imperative that adequate sun protection is used. Ensure that all of your employees are advised on the benefits of using sunblock. This could become part of your health and safety programme. All employees should know to apply sunblock at least 15 minutes before being exposed to the sun. They should follow these simple rules:
· Choose a sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher. Ensure it is water-resistant and provides broad-spectrum coverage (protects against both UVA and IVB rays).
· Apply sunscreen liberally at least 15 minutes before going outside. Be sure to cover every area of exposed skin.
· Don’t forget your lips. Keep them protected using a lip balm of a minimum of SPF 15.
· Reapply sunscreen at least every 2 hours. If you come into contact with water or sweat excessively then this needs to be more regularly.
As well as providing training on sun protection and the dangers of skin cancer and melanoma, you could also allow your outdoor workers a break every two hours to apply sunscreen. You could provide adequate sun protection for all of your outdoor workers and you could even allow them to start work half an hour later in order for them to apply sunscreen and allow it to sink in. You might consider supplying sunscreen to all outdoors workers or even adding funds to their uniform allowance to pay for sunscreen.
Sun hats are essential when it comes to protecting your face, ears and back of the neck. Portable protection can be incorporated into a protective helmet or integrated into the uniform. In order to keep your staff safe from the dangers of skin cancer, you need to make it a hard rule that everyone must use the portable protection that you provide.
Worker Safety & Education
Although we are all aware of the dangers of exposure to direct sunlight, it is easy to forget how damaging UV rays can be, even on a cloudy day. It is vital that all of your outdoor workers receive adequate training and education to understand the dangers of skin cancer and melanoma. As well as being aware of the risks of sun exposure and how to prevent sun damage to the skin, it is also important that everyone is aware of the symptoms of skin cancer and melanoma. Skin cancer prevention training should be a regular event.
Training should cover skin cancer and melanoma detection techniques, including training on how to perform regular skin checks and the importance of them. It might help to stress the importance of using an app such as Skinvision to keep track of any changes in the appearance of moles.
It is important that any member of staff who notices something concerning when performing a skin check knows that they have the support to find treatment. Whether skin cancer and melanoma treatment is covered by the healthcare package that you provide, or you simply provide information about what to do if you find a mole then at least your staff are being looked after.
As an HR manager working with people who spend a great deal of time outdoors, you need to be aware of the risks of skin cancer and melanoma and stay informed of treatment options. Treatments in this field are constantly being developed, so it is really important that you stay on top of progress and take the time to research the area regularly.
Depending on the work at hand, it is not always possible to slip, slop, slap, seek and slide. Some work means you cannot seek shade or slide on wraparound sunglasses. In these cases, it is still really important that your staff know to slip on a shirt and keep as much skin covered as possible, slop on some approved sunscreen and slap on a hat or portable protection to cover their face. Implementing your sunscreen policy will help keep your employees safe from the dangers of skin cancer and melanoma.