Although your workers might associate cancer worries with the food they eat or the air they breathe, the workplace poses significant cancer risks, including UV exposure for outdoor workers, secondhand smoke exposure, and carcinogenic chemical exposure. If you have outdoor workers, advise them to report to their supervisor immediately if they notice any of these changes to their skin: (1) Any change in the size or color of a mole or other darkly pigmented growth or spot, or a new growth; (2) scaliness, oozing, bleeding, itchiness, tenderness, or pain; and (3) dark coloring that spreads past the edge of a mole or mark. They should also see a dermatologist, because these symptoms might indicate skin cancer. Review your workplace precautions and protection procedures with your outdoor workers.
The American Cancer Society (ACS – www.cancer.org) observes its annual Great American Smokeout day of encouragement and empowerment for smokers to quit. Remind your workers of these statistics from the ACS on how stopping smoking can increase life expectancy.
- Smokers who quit at the age of 35 gain an average of 8 years of life expectancy
- Quitting at 55 gains about 5 years
- Quitting at 65 gains 3 years
The ACS Great American Smokeout Web site offers a variety of tips, programs, and calculators to help smokers quit. Encourage your workers to visit this site.
Millions of U.S. workers face exposure to chemical materials that could be carcinogenic. If any of your workers are in this group, train them to take these steps to protect themselves from carcinogen exposure:
- Enter regulated areas only assigned and authorized
- Wear assigned, undamaged personal protective equipment (PPE)
- Inspect PPE before use to be sure it’s undamaged and fits properly
- For standard operations in a regulated area, wear full-body protection (coveralls, a smock, long-sleeved shirt and pants), gloves, shoe covers, and a half-face, filter-type respirator
- For tasks with risk of direct carcinogen contact, wear impervious clothing, gloves, and boots, and a continuous-air supplied hood
- Don’t keep or use food, beverages, cosmetics, smoking products, or chewing gum in regulated areas
- Remove PPE properly when you leave a regulated area
- Leave used PPE in area assigned for decontamination and/or disposal
- Wash hands, forearms, face, and neck before leaving the area
- Shower at the end of the shift or immediately after direct exposure
- Put on street clothes in the clean change room – do not take contaminated clothing, PPE, or materials home
- Follow decontamination procedures for materials and equipment
For more guidelines on reducing the risk of carcinogens in the workplace, please feel free to get in touch with our risk management professionals.