Heriot-Watt University warns construction workers as temperatures soar

Credit: AdobeStock / sculpies

With the heatwave set to make Britain hotter than Jamaica and Turkey this week, Heriot-Watt University has noted in a study that 3.1 million outdoor construction workers in the country might be at serious risk of skin cancer.

This is caused by excessive exposure to UV radiation from the sun in the summer, with 1,500 new cases of non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC) caused by solar UV exposure at work being reported each year in Britain.

The study from the University, titled: ‘Exposure to solar UV during outdoor construction work in Britain’, found that outdoor construction workers in Britain who have worked for more than 30 years could have a doubling risk of squamous cell carcinoma (SCC).

Furthermore, those who have been working outdoors for more than 40 years could have a doubling of risk for basal cell carcinoma (BCC).

This is also a result of further research showing that someone working in an outdoor job in Britain for about 30 to 40 years with an annual exposure of around 200 standard erythema doses (SED) on unprotected skin would accumulate around 6,000 to 8,000 SED.

Commenting on the findings, Heriot-Watt University said: “We suggest that construction employers take a more proactive approach to managing sun safety and enforce the use of necessary protective measures, both personal protection and modification of work processes to minimise exposure.

“We suggest the regulator [Health and Safety Executive] should have a stronger role in promoting a risk-based management approach to UV.”

>>Read more about keeping safe in the sun here.