Working Outdoors

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in Canada, with solar UVR exposure being the principal cause and a preventable risk factor.

  • Outdoor workers experience a substantial amount of sun exposure on a daily basis due to the nature of their occupation.
  • Any workers in an industry who are exposed to solar UVR for at least two hours of each working day are considered an at risk outdoor worker.
  • Peak hours of sun exposure are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m, depending on location and time of year.

Impact on the Bottom Line

  • Average melanoma patients lose 28 days from work.
  • Non-melanoma skin cancer accounts for an average of 14 days of disability.
  • The estimated cost of all skin cancers in Canada in 2004 was $531,750,000 – over half a billion dollars.
  • UVR radiation can also cause eye cancers, cataracts, weakening of the immune system and medication reactions leading to short and long-term disability.

Workers Compensation Considerations

  • Between 2005 and 2012 (inclusive) there were over 100 accepted sun related WCB claims in Alberta.
  • As of 2002, the Worker Safety and Insurance Board of Ontario had 45 settlements related to skin cancer.
  • These cases may set precedence for future claims and rulings in other jurisdictions.

The Be Sunsible Outdoor Workers Program

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Alberta Health Services has been working with the Canadian Skin Cancer Foundation and others to develop the Be Sunsible program to help workers and employers reduce the risk of UVR and heat exposure with step-by-step strategies, tools and tips.

For more information about the Be Sunsible program, including a step by step guide to improving workplace sun safety, please visit www.besunsible.ca.

Be Sunsible at a glance:

  • Get organized – setting up for success
  • Conduct hazard assessments
  • Customize your own Be Sunsible program
  • Program roll out and delivery
  • Monitoring and evaluation