Occupational exposure to solar ultraviolet radiation (UVR) is a significant contributor to nonmelanoma skin cancer (NMSC), according to a recent study published in the journal Environment International. The study, conducted by researchers from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Labor Organization (ILO), provides estimates of global and regional occupational exposures to UVR and the associated burden of NMSC.
By analyzing data from 195 countries and regions, the researchers found that in 2019, approximately 1.6 billion workers worldwide were exposed to UVR on the job, accounting for 28.4 percent of the working-age population. The burden of NMSC, measured in deaths and disability-adjusted life years (DALYs), was significant. The population-attributable fractions (PAFs) for NMSC deaths and DALYs were 29.0 and 30.4 percent, respectively. This translates to 18,960 deaths and 0.5 million DALYs.
The study also revealed that the burden of NMSC was higher among men and older age groups. Over the span of two decades, from 2000 to 2019, the number of attributable deaths and DALYs nearly doubled. These findings highlight the urgent need for effective preventive measures and workplace interventions to mitigate the impact of occupational UVR exposure on skin cancer.
This study serves as a compelling reminder of the risks associated with outdoor work and emphasizes the importance of protecting workers from harmful UVR. Employers should take proactive steps to implement sun protection strategies, such as providing sun-protective clothing, hats, and sunglasses, encouraging regular use of sunscreen, and scheduling outdoor work during non-peak hours when the sun’s rays are less intense.
By prioritizing the health and safety of workers, we can reduce the burden of NMSC attributable to occupational UVR exposure. This can be achieved through increased awareness, education, and the implementation of comprehensive sun safety programs in the workplace.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
1. What is nonmelanoma skin cancer (NMSC)?
Nonmelanoma skin cancer (NMSC) refers to a group of skin cancers that arise from the cells in the outermost layer of the skin. It mainly includes basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) and is typically caused by excessive exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun or artificial sources.
2. What are population-attributable fractions (PAFs)?
Population-attributable fractions (PAFs) are measures used to estimate the proportion of disease burden in a population that is attributable to a specific risk factor or exposure. In the context of this study, PAFs were used to determine the percentage of skin cancer cases and deaths that can be attributed to occupational exposure to UV radiation.
3. How can employers protect workers from UVR exposure?
Employers can take various measures to protect workers from UVR exposure, including providing sun-protective clothing, hats, and sunglasses, promoting the regular use of sunscreen, and scheduling outdoor work during non-peak hours when the sun’s rays are less intense. It is also essential to educate workers about the risks of UVR exposure and encourage them to seek shade and take regular breaks to minimize sun exposure.