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MARLEY ETERNIT - Builders Face High Risk Factor From Recommended SPF Factor

Following a recent report from the Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin (DTB), which challenges official guidelines from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) on sunscreen usage, industry leading roofing provider Marley Eternit reveals that almost 90 percent of UK construction workers could be putting themselves at serious risk by using the wrong factor protection.

Construction workers rank amongst the highest risk category of workers, because of their prolonged exposure to the sun, especially when working in the heat of the day - between 11am and 3pm - when the sun is at its hottest. And, on the basis of the latest DTB recommendations that we should be using a minimum of factor 30 sunscreen to prevent skin cancer, the survey commissioned by Marley Eternit showed that 86 per cent of construction workers are making do with lower factors with some even admitting that they don’t wear suntan lotion at all.

Sarah Harding, Marketing Manager at Marley Eternit comments: “We really welcome the recent advice published in the DTB as we have always recommended that builders and roofers wear a minimum of factor 30, however our research results indicate that the majority have been adhering to the official NICE guidelines and therefore could be placing themselves at increased risk of sun damage.”

Current NICE recommendations, published in January, state that we should wear a broad spectrum sunscreen with a minimum factor 15 SPF, however according to the DTB, this SPF level is both too low and not based on how people actually apply sunscreen.

These recommendations are dependent on applying 2ml/2cm2 of skin every two hours which would mean that if using a factor 15 rather than 30 SPF, construction workers should be using up to 50ml of sunscreen per day, equating to more than a bottle each week and an associated cost of up to £400 over a six month period.

The research certainly supports the rationale given by DTB that this is an unrealistic expectation, with ‘I often forget’, ‘I haven’t got time’ and ‘It’s too expensive’ ranking as the top three reasons as to why construction workers don’t regularly apply sunscreen.

Sarah continues: “Our findings clearly demonstrate the need for construction workers to increase both the SPF factor used and the frequency of application. Even when the forecasted air temperatures are not that high it can be a different story on top of a building; 18°C isn’t the sort of heat that people associate with sunburn, but 18°C on the ground can mean 32°C in direct sunlight on a roof.

“It is therefore crucial that when UK sunshine does arrive builders are not caught off guard and, just like any health and safety precaution, sun protection should be a top priority.”

It’s not just construction workers themselves that need to take heed of the recent advice. Employers also need to ensure that they make the appropriate provisions as it seems there could be potential worrying consequences for those who fail to put health and safety measures in place to protect their staff from exposure to the sun.

This follows a precedent set in Australia where an employer was found liable for damages when employees who developed skin cancer after working long hours in the sun sued their company for not providing them with adequate protection.

Sarah continues: “With a few simple precautions building contractors and their employees can ensure they are protected.”

“Having access to the appropriate SPF sunscreen is obviously key, but other steps include ensuring a hard hat is worn at all times on the job, that lighter weight baseball caps are available for use during breaks, that shirts are kept on to help protect the trunk of the body and ensuring water is readily available for all roofers to help prevent sunstroke and dehydration.”

To view the full list of measures recommended by Marley Eternit to ensure all construction workers are protected from the sun please visit

E-mail Marley Eternit


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