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Work-related Skin Cancer Kills 50 Workers a Year in the UK

Every year nearly 250 cases of malignant melanoma skin cancer are diagnosed in workers from the UK construction, agriculture and leisure industries.

The study by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health blamed the existence of a ‘macho culture’, particularly in the construction industry, for fostering the myth that sunburn - a major contributor to skin cancer - was not a health risk, despite workers spending up to seven hours a day working unprotected outdoors.

Nearly 60% of those questioned in the study admitted to having suffered sunburn at least once in the past year. In addition, many workers mistakenly believed that cloud cover and the UK’s climate, in general, offered adequate protection from harmful ultraviolet radiation.

In response to the study, the institution has urged businesses to develop ‘sun-safety strategies’ to combat work-related skin cancer by implementing measures such as minimising workers’ sun exposure during the middle of the day, and asking employees to wear high-factor sunscreen, trousers and long-sleeved tops.

Skin cancer is one of the most common types of cancer and ultra-violet light - which can bounce off water, sand, concrete, light-coloured surfaces and snow - is the primary contributing risk factor to those who work outside.

All skin types can be damaged by exposure to ultraviolet radiation, and sunburn, whether serious or mild, can cause permanent and irreversible skin damage that can become worse with each exposure.

Around 100,000 people are diagnosed with non-melanoma skin cancer each year in the UK and around 13,500 are diagnosed with the deadly melanoma skin cancer.

Melanoma kills around 2,000 people each year in the UK. If melanoma is treated early on, surgery is normally successful. If treatment occurs at a later stage, however, it is mainly used to reduce symptoms and slow the spread of cancerous cells.

Skin cancer symptoms can include a red, brown or black lump or spot, a new mole, an ulcer or scaly patches of hard skin which can bleed, ooze or develop a crust.

Paul Sankey is a Senior Medical Negligence Solicitor at Slater and Gordon Lawyers UK, who has successfully run a number of cases arising from mistakes in the diagnosis of melanoma.

For a free consultation about a clinical or medical negligence claim call Slater and Gordon Lawyers on freephone 0800 916 9049 or contact us online and we’ll be happy to help you.

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