As the UK gets set for summer, roof systems manufacturer, Marley, is urging all outdoor construction workers to look after both their skin and eyes to reduce the damage caused by increased sun exposure.
Latest figures from IOSH identified 1,700 people in the UK are diagnosed with skin cancers each year as a direct result of occupational exposure to UV radiation. Meaning, outdoor workers, including roofers, are at a greater risk of skin damage from UV rays, including premature ageing and skin cancer.
However, while for many outdoor workers the dangers of increased sun exposure to the skin is well known, it’s not the only organ which is at risk, with eyes also susceptible to damage by UV rays. In fact, more than 99% of UV radiation is absorbed by the front of the eye, which, over long periods of time, can lead to visible ageing around the eye area, cataracts, skin cancer on the eye lids and even vision loss.
To promote sun safety across the construction industry, this year, Marley ‘s annual Safe in the Sun campaign is focus is on encouraging outdoor workers to protect both their skin and eyes from increased exposure to UV rays.
Emily Jane Dix, who is leading the campaign at Marley, said: “Our Safe in the Sun campaign has been running for more than 15 years, and over this time, we have seen roofing contractors take positive steps to help reduce the risk of sun damage on their skin.
“Yet, when it comes to your face, it isn’t only your skin that is at risk from sun damage. After the skin, the organ most susceptible to damage from sunlight is the eye. Which is why this year’s Safe in the Sun campaign will not only continue to build on previous years, but also include an increased focus on how to safely protect the eyes too.”
Gary Walpole, safety, health and environment officer at the National Federation of Roofing Contractors, says: “UV light is one of the many hazards that can damage your eyesight, so it is important to wear protection. A roofer, or other construction worker, wearing safety sunglasses will not only protect their eyes from harmful UV rays, they will also feel more comfortable when working in bright conditions as the glasses will reduce disruptive reflections (glass, light coloured roofing membranes etc). Safety sunglasses with UV 400 protection and the relevant British Standards kitemark or CE mark, can help vision be significantly safer and more pleasant in sunny and bright conditions.”
To help ensure outdoor workers are safe in the sun this summer, Marley has put together the following advice:
Sun safety on site
1. Don’t leave exposed skin unprotected. Use sunscreen with an SPF of at least 25 and remember to reapply regularly throughout the day.
2. To reduce the amount of suncream needed, consider using long sleeved, lightweight, UV-protective PPE.
3. Wear a pair of safety sunglasses with UV protection. Look for a UV 400 rating and check they are certified in line with EN 166 (personal eye protection) and EN 172 (sun glare filters for industrial use).
4. As safety sunglasses will only cover part of your face, to prevent skin cancer and ageing, make sure you also apply sunscreen to the rest of your face.
5. Make sure you apply suncream, even when it is cloudy - up to 80% of dangerous UV rays can pass through a cloudy sky.