Urgent need to protect Europe’s outdoor workers from UV

30-Sep-2016

Almost 14.5 million outdoor workers are at risk of UV exposure highlighted at EADV 25th press conference

The EADV has been extremely vocal on this important issue which was published as a special supplement of the Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, the EADV also launched a Global Call to Action urging policy makers, employers, workers’ organisations and physicians to protect Europe’s outdoor workers from skin cancer caused by solar UV-radiation.

Employers rarely undertake health surveillance, seldom introduce organisational changes at the worksite and provide poor or no instructions on adequate sun protection. Prof. John

"Awareness raising campaigns addressing the general population seem to bear results: people´s knowledge on solar UV radiation risks and on their sun protection behaviour has increased. Why then shouldn´t this be possible for occupational skin cancer? Do we have to wait until skin cancer is the highest health care expenditure of all cancers in Europe to draw attention to outdoor workers’ number one enemy?" Prof. Swen Malte John from Osnabrueck was one of the reports authors and presented the issue at the press conference.

Data in the report show that after only five years of outdoor work, the risk of developing NMSC is at least twofold for outdoor workers compared to indoor workers. Furthermore, the data also show that health literacy and proneness to prevention are significantly lower for outdoor workers.

On the European level, there are currently 24 health and safety Directives of the European Commission protecting workers from a number of issues. One of those Directives, which are currently under review, is the artificial optical radiation directive, which lays down limit values for exposures of workers to artificial optical radiation to eyes and skin but completely excludes the continuous exposure of workers to natural UV radiation. EADV has been asking for a revision of this Directive to include solar UV radiation within its scope. This will pave the way to recognising NMSC as an occupational disease for outdoor workers and improve the legislative framework that protects European workers from occupational threats. On the national level, only seven countries have included NMSC into their national list of occupational diseases.

Prof. Dr. Swen Malte John is Professor and Chairman at the Department of Dermatology, Environmental Medicine, Health Theory at the University of Osnabrueck, Germany.

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