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Dangerous UV exposure: These occupational groups have the highest risk of skin cancer


Violent UV dose at work: occupational groups with the highest risk of skin cancer
According to the German Cancer Society, up to 190,000 people develop new skin cancer each year in Germany. A study by the statutory accident insurance company has now examined which occupational groups are particularly at risk. These employees should be given special protection.

Number of skin cancer cases is increasing
The incidence of skin cancer has been rising steadily for decades. A distinction is made between so-called black skin cancer (malignant melanoma) and light skin cancer. According to estimates by the World Health Organization (WHO), two to three million new cases of light skin cancer and more than 250,000 new cases of malignant melanoma occur worldwide every year, reports the German Cancer Society. In Germany, cases of light skin cancer are not covered across the board, but data from some cancer registries suggest that up to 170,000 people develop invasive forms of light skin cancer each year. Around 18,000 new cases of invasive malignant melanoma are registered in Germany every year. The risk of getting skin cancer is particularly high in some occupational groups.

Some occupational groups are particularly at risk
An international team of researchers reported a few years ago that aircraft crew and pilots are more likely to develop skin cancer than other professions. But people who work outdoors also get more sun and therefore carcinogenic UV radiation than other employees. As part of a research project, the Institute for Occupational Safety (IFA) of the German Social Accident Insurance (DGUV) has now collected and evaluated detailed exposure data for a wide variety of outdoor activities. It was shown that sewer builders, stone breakers and roof and facade builders have a particularly high risk of light skin cancer. For example, their exposure to UV radiation from sunlight was three times higher than that of agricultural workers or postmen.

Recognized as an occupational disease
White skin cancer has been recognized as an occupational disease since 2015. DGUV spokesman Stefan Boltz said, according to a message from the dpa news agency, that there were already 5,000 suspicious transaction reports for accident insurance alone. However, there is another similar insurance in agriculture, for example. Walter Eichendorf, Vice Director of Accident Insurance, said that precise information about which occupational groups are particularly exposed to ultraviolet radiation has so far been lacking. Only with very precise information "can we take targeted and effective preventive measures," said Eichendorf in a press release.

"Load so high that something has to be done"
As part of the study, more than 600 employees who work a lot outdoors have carried so-called dosimeters with them in the summer months since 2014. The technology records the UV exposure between 7:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. A computer reads out the values ​​once a week. Data is now available for 65,000 measurement days. Carpenters, road and concrete builders, bricklayers, steel construction fitters and - with a certain distance - fruit and vegetable gardeners are particularly burdened. “The burden on all observed workers is so high that something has to be done,” said study leader and radiation expert Dr. Marc Wittlich. The reasons for the different levels of radiation exposure will now be examined further.

Technical and organizational protective measures
By far the highest cancer risk from sunlight was found in the study for sewer builders who work above ground. From April to October alone, they were exposed to so much UV radiation that, according to Boltz, it would be mathematically sufficient for one and a half years of sunburn. Dr. Wittlich said: "Some results really surprised us." The insurance company is in favor of tailor-made sun protection - depending on the industry. According to the Occupational Health and Safety Act, technical and organizational solutions take precedence over the protective measures that employers have to take. "These include, for example, the use of sun sails or the shifting of work in times of low UV exposure, such as in the early morning or late afternoon", explained Bernhard Arenz, prevention manager of the professional association for the construction industry (BG BAU).

Protection against circulatory diseases
According to Boltz, this is also a protection against circulatory diseases. "There were already employees who collapsed after a heat stroke," said the spokesman. Construction workers in particular need protection. With their bare torsos, they have long been in the field of accident insurance. In addition to the awnings, "body-covering clothing plus head protection is definitely necessary," said Reinhold Knittel, spokesman for the management of the Social Insurance for Agriculture Forestry and Horticulture (SVLFG). "Sunscreens should be used when other protection is not possible and they must have a high sun protection factor." However, sunscreens are often of little use on construction sites because they combine with dust and can run into your eyes when you sweat. If lighter skin cancer is recognized as an occupational disease, the accident insurance - and not the health insurance - pays for the medical treatment and also for the injuries. According to Boltz, pensions are less common because lighter skin cancer is often easy to treat. Early diagnosis is important for this. For this reason, employees should contact a doctor immediately if they have the first signs of skin cancer. (ad)

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Video: Skin Cancer: What Causes it and Who is at Risk? - Mayo Clinic (December 2021).