Beware of the sun – it's your duty!
Because grounds professionals spend most of the year outside, they are therefore regularly exposed to the damaging effects of the sun. Skin cancer is one of the UK’s most common cancers and incidences are rising rapidly. However, up to 80 per cent of cases could be avoided
Over-exposure to UV radiation is the major environmental cause of all types of skin cancer and, on average, people who work outdoors receive three/four times more UV exposure than people who work indoors. The cumulative effect puts outdoor workers at greater risk of non-melanoma skin cancers, which are the most common forms of skin cancer in the UK.
Sunburn will double the risk of malignant melanoma - the most dangerous form of skin cancer - and those with fair skin, lots of freckles or moles, or a family history of skin cancer are most at risk.
Look after your team
As a manager you also have legal obligations in relation to the health and safety of your staff as governed by the Health and Safety at Work Act (1974) and Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (1999). Make sure your team are aware of the risks and offer advice on how they can protect themselves:
- Seek shade where possible between 11 am and 3 pm
- Spend breaks out of the sun
- Choose a protective hat that shades the face, neck, ears and head
- Talk to your employer about including a hat in your uniform
- Wear sunglasses where possible
- Apply factor 15+ sunscreen before starting work and re-apply regularly
- Use a sunscreen for sports or with a low oil content if you are doing strenuous activity.
If you or your team are sunburnt regularly, tell your employer and discuss what improvements could be made. It may sound like commonsense, but following the simple steps above can help avoid a potentially fatal disease – early detection makes it much easier to treat.
Detecting skin cancer
Keep an eye on your skin
You may have some moles or dark patches that are flat or slightly raised. Usually these will remain harmless all your life.
But moles or patches of normal skin that change in size, shape or colour over weeks or months in adult life should be shown to your doctor.
What should I be looking out for?
Get to know your skin and look out for any changes. When checking your skin use the ABCD rule to help you remember the main warning signs for malignant melanoma.Also remember to look out for other changes that might indicate less serious non-melanoma skin cancer.
What if I notice a change?
If you are concerned about skin changes, visit your doctor without delay.
Any change in a mole, freckle or normal patch of skin that occurs quickly, over weeks or months, should be taken seriously.
For further information visit www.sunsmart.org.uk
Other signs of skin cancer
- a new growth or sore that won’t heal
- a spot, mole or sore that itches or hurts a mole or growth that bleeds, crusts or scabs
Know the facts
- More than 9,500 cases are diagnosed in the UK every year and the incidence of melanoma has gone up by four times since the 1970s. UK melanoma rates have risen faster than for any other cancer.
- Over 2,300 people die from skin cancer each year in the UK, mostly due to malignant melanoma. In fact, there are more skin cancer deaths in the UK than in Australia, even though Australia has more cases of the disease.
- Melanoma is one of the few cancers to affect young adults and is the second most common cancer among 15-34 year olds. A person’s risk of developing melanoma increases with age.
- More women than men develop malignant melanoma. Melanomas in women are most common on the legs; in men, on the trunk. These parts of the body are usually covered but are exposed to intense bursts of UV radiation while sunbathing or on a sunbed.