CWU ‘Be Sun Smart & Skin Safe’ Campaign – Skin Cancer & Dehydration Risks:
Temperatures have now risen to the highest of the year and record levels bring dangers with sunlight exposure and dehydration. We want Reps and members to be aware of those risks!
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the UK, and rates continue to rise.
100,000 new cases are now diagnosed each year, and the disease kills over 2,500 people each year in the UK – that’s seven people every day.
Whilst we are getting better at understanding how skin cancer works, we still have a long way to go. On average, someone who dies from skin cancer typically loses 20 years of their life, and rates of malignant melanoma are rising faster than any other type of common cancer.
Types Of Skin Cancer
There are three types of skin cancer: malignant melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) and basal cell carcinoma (BCC). Details are as follows;
Cutaneous Malignant Melanoma is a cancer of the pigment cells of the skin. If it is treated early, the outlook is usually good. It is not contagious.
Melanomas can come up in or near to a mole, but can also appear on skin that looks quite normal. They develop when the skin pigment cells (melanocytes) become cancerous and multiply in an uncontrolled way.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma is one of the non-melanoma skin cancers. It is the second most common type of skin cancer in the UK.
Squamous Cell Carcinomas can occur on any part of your body, but are most common on areas that are exposed to the sun, such as your head and neck (including the lips and ears) and the backs of your hands. Squamous Cell Carcinomas can also crop up where the skin has been damaged by X-rays, and also on old scars, ulcers, burns and persistent chronic wounds. Squamous Cell Carcinomas are not contagious.
A Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) is a type of skin cancer. There are two main types of skin cancer: melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer. BCC is a non-melanoma skin cancer, and is the most common type (> 80%) of all skin cancer (skin cancer incidence is < 1%) in the UK. BCC are sometimes referred to as ‘rodent ulcers’.
Basal Cell Carcinomas mainly affect fair skinned adults and are more common in men than women. Apart from a rare familial condition called Gorlin’s Syndrome, Basal Cell Carcinomas are not hereditary. However, some of the things that increase the risk of getting one (e.g., a fair skin, a tendency to burn rather than tan, and freckling) do run in families.
UV Ray Exposure
UV exposure is the main preventable cause of skin cancer, so here are a few tips on how to stay safe in the sun:
Clothing should always be the first line of defence against damage from the sun, with sunscreen being used in addition to clothes, including a hat, t-shirt and UV protective sunglasses. Clothing provided by RM and BT has a high UV ray protective rating.
Find The Right Sunscreen
Use a sunscreen of SPF30 (SPF stands for ‘Sun Protection Factor’) and refers to the level of protection against UVB radiation, linked to skin cancer. Look for a four or ideally five star UVA rating on the bottle which will help protect from UVA radiation, associated with skin ageing. You may also find that the UVA rating is represented by the letters ‘UVA’ inside a circle. (BT provides sunscreen free – Royal Mail does not – The Union has a long standing claim for Royal Mail to provide it to all outdoor staff free and a fresh claim has been submitted to the CEO and COO).
Reactions to sunscreen are rare and can be a result of a sensitivity or allergy to any of the many ingredients used in these products. The GP surgery can advise on alternatives.
For those with sun allergy-prone skin, they can keep safe and protected in the sun with various sun allergy protect sunblock creams and gels, sunscreens for the face and body with broad-spectrum SPF 50 protection. Sun allergy protect sunscreen has been specially formulated to meet the needs of sun-allergic skin, including the likes of Polymorphous Light Eruption.
Get Your Timing Right
Skin needs time to absorb sunscreen, so apply generously about 20 to 30 minutes before going out. Reapply frequently at least every two hours, as it can come off when sweating or through rubbing.
The sun tends to be strongest in the middle of the day, so find some shade typically between 11am and 3pm, especially if you are very fair skinned. Just 10 minutes of strong sunshine is all it takes to burn pale skin. Take breaks in the shade.
Drink plenty of water and avoid dehydration. Obtain and use a red Royal Mail refillable water bottle and use it regularly.
CWU ‘Sun Smart & Skin Safe’ Posters And Leaflets
See attached CWU leaflet and poster. Branches, Regions and Health and Safety Committees can purchase additional posters and pocket fact cards/leaflets from the CWU Health, Safety & Environment Department Tel: 0208 971 7365.
IMPORTANT ADVICE TO ALL MEMBERS WORKING OUTSIDE:
- Cover Up – minimise skin exposure – avoid sunburn.
- Protect Your Head – wear a hat with a broad rim.
- Take regular breaks in the shade.
- Use sunscreen/sunblock.
- Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
Royal Mail Group – ‘Protect Yourself In The Sun’ Materials and ‘Mandatory’ Severe Weather Risk Assessment Process
See attached RMG ‘Protect Yourself in The Sun’ – ‘Plasma Screen Shot’ currently being displayed, plus the joint Royal Mail Group/CWU/IOSH poster and staff pocket card/leaflet to be displayed and distributed by PiCs to all staff.
Managers must complete a Severe Weather Risk Assessment daily in hot, sunny weather and must record the controls that have been implemented to protect the workforce. All PiCs/managers were instructed to familiarise themselves with the Severe Weather Risk Assessment in order to ensure that they are prepared for the current high summer temperatures which the country is currently experiencing.
A supporting pack of sun safety information, including the attached z-cards and posters to display and distribute in units, has been made available to PiCs on the RMG ‘Sharepoint’ site for downloading and printing, under severe weather so they should have been arranging for the information to be shared and displayed. Any enquiries should be directed to the local RMG Safety Health and Environment (SHE) Advisor.
Under The Severe Weather Risk Assessment (SWRA) Managers Must:
- Carry out a SWRA daily and consult/involve the ASR.
- Suspend deliveries and collections if appropriate to do so.
- Communicate the SWRA results to all staff.
- Must not manipulate the SWRA to justify sending out deliveries or collections where it is clearly unsafe to do so.
- Managers must take whatever action is necessary to safeguard employees by removing risks and reducing risks to a tolerable level.
- CWU ‘Sun Smart-Skin Safe’ Leaflet
- CWU ‘Sun Smart-Skin Safe’ Poster
- RM/PFWW/CWU/Unite/IOSH ‘Protect Yourself and Stay Safe In The Sun’ Poster
- RMG ‘Protect Yourself and Stay Safe in The Sun’ Plasma Screen Shot
- RMG/CWU/IOSH ‘Stay Safe in The Sun’ Pocket Card/Leaflet
National Health, Safety & Environment Officer