Almost 14.5 million workers in Europe spend at least 75% of their working time under the sun, and a new report showed that this significant proportion of Europe’s workforce is at increased risk of developing non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC) (JEADV Apr. 2016; 30(S3):1–51). The report was produced by a group of leading dermatologists, members of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology (EADV) and other experts from around Europe.
Data in the report showed that after only five years of working outdoors, the risk of developing NMSC is at least two-fold for outdoor workers compared to indoor workers. Furthermore, the data also showed that health literacy is significantly lower for outdoor workers.
The report, called “Non-melanoma Skin Cancer by Solar UV. The Neglected Occupational Threat,” provides an overview and new research on the current European status quo regarding epidemiology, risk assessment and UV exposure measurement, legal management, and health care services provided to affected workers.
In a consensus report found in the same publication, experts call on European member states to recognize NMSC as an occupational disease and the EU Commission to revise the 2006 Directive on Artificial Optical Radiation (2006/25/EC) to include solar UV radiation within its scope. This Directive currently only defines limits for exposure of workers to artificial optical radiation to the eyes and skin and completely excludes exposure of workers to sunlight.
“For the sake of outdoor workers with skin cancer by the sun, EADV had to stand tall, providing the overwhelming scientific evidence for the invisible occupational risk of solar UV. Far too many of our patients diseased with work related skin cancers ask us ’why has nobody told me before? I would then have protected myself.’ This has to change. Prevention is simple and cheap, and skin cancer is one of the few cancers entirely curable if detected early,” said Prof. Dr. Swen Malte John, a dermatologist based in Osnabrueck, Germany, one of the editors of the report, and the chair of the Media & PR Committee of the EADV, in a press release.