Workplace UV Exposure = Quantifiable Economic Costs
Posted: Tuesday, July 10, 2018
To highlight the influence of workplace sun exposure on the development of nonmelanoma skin cancers, and the costs these cancers impose, researchers, led by Emile Tompa, PhD, of the Institute for Work and Health in Toronto, Ontario, published an economic analysis in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene.
Skin cancer is Canada’s most common cancer and among the few cancers increasing in incidence. According to the scientists, “solar ultraviolet radiation is the second most prevalent carcinogenic exposure in Canada and is similarly important in other countries with large Caucasian populations.” About 10% of Canadian employees receive exposure to ultraviolet radiation at work, with a majority spending at least 6 hours outdoors daily.
Using extensive literature searches and several computational methods, the team estimated that in 2011 in Canada, 2,846 (5.3%) of 53,696 newly diagnosed basal cell carcinomas (BCCs) and 1,710 (9.2%) of 18,549 newly diagnosed squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs) were attributable to occupational solar radiation exposure. Monetarily, “the combined total for direct and indirect costs of occupational non-melanoma skin cancers [was] $28.9 million ($15.9 million, BCC; $13.0 million, SCC) and for intangible costs [was] $5.7 million ($0.6 million, BCC; $5.1 million, SCC).”
Given these (Canadian) dollar figures about “the significant contribution of workplace sun exposure to skin cancers,” said Dr. Tompa in a press release, groups such as policymakers and unions can “make a strong cost-benefit argument for inexpensive exposure reduction interventions, such as shade structures, hats and loose clothing, sunscreen, and shift scheduling.”