182351 Workplace sun protection policies: A new opportunity in skin cancer prevention

Sunday, October 26, 2008

David B. Buller, PhD , Klein Buendel, Golden, CO
Mary Klein Buller, MA , Klein Buendel, Golden, CO
Xia Liu, MS , Klein Buendel, Golden, CO
Worksite health programs and policies are promising avenues for promoting health and reducing occupational risks. One risk that has received limited attention in workplaces is excessive sun exposure. In May 2007, a survey on sun protection policies was conducted with private and public employers in Colorado (n=401). Employers had at least 5 employees (56% had 5-25 employees) and at least one outdoor worker. Overall, 40% of the organizations were reported to have a written workplace sun protection policy, more commonly recommending employees wear sunscreen (83%), shirts with sleeves (65%), and hats (70%) than wear sunglasses (45%), use shade (27%), or adjust schedules to limit midday exposure (8%). Most policies were far from comprehensive: Only 19% had 5 or all 6 sun protection recommendations (38% only 1 or 2; 43% 3 or 4). A majority of respondents agreed that skin cancer was a concern for employees (83%) and themselves (89%) and supported adopting workplace sun protection policies (71%). While 30% of respondents said their organization was likely to adopt a written policy in the next 3 years, many were concerned about the cost (44%), feasibility (51%), and benefits to risk management (53%). Smaller employers evaluated the policies less favorably (p<.01). Considerable improvements in sun protection could be achieved by motivating workplaces to adopt comprehensive sun safety policies. Gains should come from convincing administrators that such policies make financial sense, are easy to implement, and are good risk management, and from capitalizing on managers' existing concerns about skin cancer.

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe current worksite sun protection policies by employers in Colorado. 2. Describe existing support by managers and administrators for workplace sun protection policies. 3. Identify methods for motivating employers to adopt comprehensive worksite sun protection policies.

Keywords: Cancer Prevention, Workplace Safety

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I was the lead investigator on this project and supervised the development of the survey instrument and data analysis.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.