Skin cancer warning for construction workers
Construction workers have been warned to take precautions during the hot weather as it emerged that the sector makes up 44% of the "vocational" skin cancer deaths per year in the UK.
The British Journal of Cancer (2017) recorded an estimated 48 "vocational" skin cancer deaths per year, with outdoor workers at particularly high risk.
Law firm Womble Bond Dickinson said that under Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (HSWA), employers have a duty to ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of its employees, as well as a similar duty under Section 3(1) in respect of non-employees such as contractors.
"While many of the measures that could be taken by employers to minimise the risk of skin damage may be perceived as unnecessary or difficult to implement, the law requires duty holders to take reasonable steps to assess and control foreseeable risk arising from work activities," said Chris Hoile, solicitor at the Womble Bond Dickinson.
He highlighted the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) publication INDG147 called "Keep Your Top On" and also recommended measures including:
- where possible, rescheduling work to cooler times of the day
- providing more frequent rest breaks and introduce shading to rest areas
- providing free access to cool drinking water
- introducing shading areas where individuals are working
- encouraging the removal of personal protective equipment when resting to encourage heat loss
- and educating workers about recognising the early symptoms of heat stress.
"Employers should take their duty to minimise the risks to the health and wellbeing of workers, including the risks posed to those working outside, as seriously as the duty to minimise the risks from work activities such as working at height and the operation and use of plant and equipment," Hoile added.