Construction workers are exposed to six to eight times more ultraviolet radiation than indoor workers. Photo: Alberta Health Services

Sun exposure during outdoor work can be unavoidable, but sun safety shouldn't be.

Construction workers are an integral part of Alberta’s economy. They build our cities, the communities within them, and the roads and crucial infrastructure that connect them all. But working outside means construction workers are exposed to about six to eight times more ultraviolet radiation (UVR) than an indoor worker. This means that outdoor workers are 2.5 to 3.5 times more likely to be diagnosed with skin cancers. Because sun exposure can be an unavoidable element of outdoor work, precautions should be taken to protect these workers.

Outdoor workers are at risk

In Canada, skin cancer accounts for approximately 33 percent of all new cancer cases, and UVR exposure is the primary cause of up to 90 percent of all skin cancers. Melanoma—the most fatal form of skin cancer—is now the seventh most common cancer in Alberta. With an estimated 778,500 Albertans potentially exposed to UVR through their occupation, prevention is the best tool to reduce the impact of sun exposure. While outdoor workers also need to take steps to protect themselves from the sun, it’s more important than ever for employers to protect the health and productivity of their workforce.

Sun safety just makes sense

Every year, the direct and indirect costs of skin cancer in Alberta total more than $7.6 million. Sun safety programs can help reduce the cost of ill health and maximize your organization’s return on investment. It’s just good business to protect the health and productivity of your workforce by including sun safety as a key component of your health and safety plans. Some of the key benefits include:

  • Fewer absence days caused by the associated conditions of sunburn.
  • A healthier and better informed workforce results in higher productivity.
  • Protection from legal claims and litigation.
  • Lowered health care and insurance costs.

What's missing from your safety plan?

A comprehensive sun safety plan goes beyond just personal protective equipment (PPE). The Be Sunsible program developed by Alberta Health Services, is a straightforward, four-step program that provide tools and resources to inspire and empower workplaces to adopt sun safety best practices. The program will guide you through the development and implementation of a customized, comprehensive sun safety program that meets your organization’s needs.

Visit today to access free tools and resources, and learn how your organization can implement a sun safety program as part of your 2017 health and safety planning.

Sun is always in the forecast. Start planning today. Together, we can reduce the risk of cancer in Alberta.

Take the first step in protecting your outdoor workers. Visit to start planning your program today.


Funding provided, in whole or in part by Alberta Health. Provision of funding by Alberta Health does not signify that this project represents the policies or views of Alberta Health.

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