How psyched are we that summer has officially arrived?! That winter was BRUTAL and spring seemed all-too-brief. At the office, summer means an endless rotation of employee vacations. And while what employees do on their time off is by no means the company’s business, it can be if it affects their health. Case in point: with everyone off frolicking in the sun, skin cancer risk skyrockets.
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer, accounting for nearly half of all cancers in the United States
1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime
Contrary to popular belief, only 23% of lifetime sun exposure occurs before the age of 18
Melanoma – the most serious form of skin cancer – is increasing faster than any other cancer
The estimated cost of treating melanoma in 2010 was $2.36 billion
Source: Skin Cancer Foundation
The good news? July is UV Safety Month – the perfect time to help employees stay safe in the sun – and we’ll help you do just that:
Sun Smarts Challenge.
Sunscreen is our friend all year long – even on cloudy days. As a summer wellness initiative, challenge your employees to wear sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher is best) at least four times a week. And of course, reward them for doing so: wellness program points or time off (say, 15-minute increments for each day they wear sunscreen) are both great motivators!
Let’s face it – no one wants to see a dermatologist for a skin exam. It’s boring and most people don’t see the point. But the facts above tell a different story. So make it easy and convenient by offering free on-site skin cancer screenings. The American Academy of Dermatology will even help you organize a screening event.
Fun in the Shade Challenge.
UV exposure is greatest between 10:00 a.m. and 4 p.m., so the best way to reduce skin cancer risk is to find a shady spot during those hours. The good news is that there are still lots of fun ways to spend time outside, but out of the sun: reading, picnicking, doing yoga, meditating, engaging in great conversation or taking a midday nap. Ask employees to enjoy some shade time two to three times a week – and challenge them to share their favorite sunless activities.
Proudly Pale Kits.
If you have the budget, put together a sun safety kit for employees. Be sure to include sunglasses (replica Aviator and Wayfarer styles are affordable and work for both guys and gals), a lightweight long-sleeved T-shirt, wide-brimmed hat and sunscreen (at least SPF 30).
H2O Required Challenge.
Skin cancer isn’t the only risk during the summer. Heat stroke is also no joke – especially in states where the heat index regularly rises above 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Staying hydrated is key to avoiding heat-related illness – and it’s also essential for heart function, alertness and controlling appetite. Challenge employees to keep a large bottle of water handy and sip regularly – especially before, during and after physical activity. If possible, provide BPA-free water bottles for everyone to make this one a no-brainer.