The World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) joint estimate that nearly 19,000 people in 183 countries died from non-melanoma skin cancer (skin carcinoma) after working under the sun in 2019.
Deaths from skin cancer attributable to occupational exposure to the sun have risen sharply: 10,088 in 2000 and 18,960 in 2019. For Gilbert F. Houngbo, ILO Director-General, “It is urgent that governments, employers and workers and their representatives work together in a framework of well-defined rights, responsibilities and duties to reduce the occupational risk of UV exposure”.
Since skin cancer develops after years, or even decades of exposure, workers must be protected from solar ultraviolet radiation at work from a young working age. Governments should establish, implement and enforce policies and regulations that protect outdoor workers from sun-induced skin cancer by providing shade, shifting working hours away from the solar noon, providing education and training, and equipping workers with sunscreen and personal protective clothing (such as a broad-brimmed hat, long-sleeved shirts and long trousers). Protective measures should be implemented when the ultraviolet index, a scale rating the amount of skin-damaging ultraviolet radiation, is three or higher.
WHO, ILO, the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations Environment Programme have developed the SunSmart Global UV App , which allows outdoor workers to estimate their exposure to solar ultraviolet radiation.