According to results, one in four outdoor workers went without sun protection in last year’s record-breaking summer heat.
The summer of 2018 sticks in the memory for many reasons, not least because it broke weather records here in the UK. According to the Met Office it was the joint hottest summer on record for the UK as a whole, and the hottest ever for England.
It was also the second sunniest on record – only beaten by 1929 with higher levels of UV radiation than normal to boot.
Whilst this was great for getting outdoors, the dangers of UV radiation from the sun cannot be underestimated. To find out if the record-breaking summer changed attitudes towards sun protection in the plumbing industry, at-work skincare specialists Swarfega have surveyed workers.
The results do not make for pretty reading – for example, of the people surveyed who worked outside or on the move last year, only 24% used sun cream regularly at work in 2018.
Know your UV
Some UV rays can also penetrate glass, which means that even inside your car or van, you are not completely protected. However, these facts and statistics may not be widely known amongst those starting out in the trade.
To investigate further, Swarfega surveyed outdoor and mobile workers – with some eye-opening results. The skin care expert found that just one in four outdoor workers used sun cream regularly last summer.
Those who did use it wore more due to the hot weather, but most of those who didn’t claimed that it was too much effort.
Only 16% of respondents said that they would wear sun cream on cloudy days, despite most knowing that UV rays could still pass through cloud. In stark contrast to behaviours at work, only 13% of respondents stated that they would not use sun cream on holiday – demonstrating awareness of the dangers of UV radiation, but not the risk posed whilst on the job.
UK employers are legally required to ensure that workers do not suffer harm or injury, but when it came to employer provision, 83% of non-wearers were not provided with any sun cream at work.
A very small number of Swarfega’s respondents were unaware of how shocking the statistics are – 72% said they didn’t know as many as one death and five new cancers per week can be attributed to occupational exposure to UV radiation.
Swarfega says it is clear that both employers and employees need to further their understanding of the serious risks of UV radiation as well as the preventative measures that can be taken.
The 5S approach to Sun Safety
For apprentices, it’s a good idea to start as you mean to go on. Swarfega recommends using the 5S Approach to sun safety:
- SLIP on sun protection clothing – clothing can be one of the most effective barriers.
- SLOP on some sun cream – practical for exposed parts of the body. Apply a broad-spectrum, high SPF sun cream 20 minutes before initial exposure and re-apply every two hours or more frequently if sweating heavily. Water-resistant creams like the TOUGH by Swarfega cream are ideal.
- SLAP on a hat and neck protection.
- SLIDE on some sunglasses – high-quality wrap-around sunglasses are ideal.
- SHADE from the sun when possible – take breaks or work in a shaded area wherever possible.