How psyched are your employees that summer has arrived? Winter can be brutal, and spring often seems all-too-brief. At the office, summer means an endless rotation of employee vacations. Though 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 the summer sun beating down, skin cancer risk skyrockets. So don’t forget to promote sun safety in the workplace as part of your well-being programs.
- 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
How to promote sun safety in the workplace
The good news? Summertime is the perfect time to help employees stay safe in the sun — and here are 5 ways to do just that:
1. UV Safety Challenge
Sunscreen is our friend all year long — even on cloudy days. As a summer well-being initiative, challenge your employees to wear sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher is best) at least four times a week to encourage UV safety. And of course, provide employee rewards for doing so: well-being program points or time off (say, 15-minute increments for each day they wear sunscreen) are both great motivators.
2. On-Site Spot Checks
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 as part of your well-being programs. The American Academy of Dermatology will even help you organize a screening event.
3. Fun in the Shade Challenge
UV exposure is greatest between 10 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. As part of your employee activities, ask them to enjoy some shade time two to three times a week — and challenge them to share their favorite sunless activities.
4. Sun Safety Kits
If you have the budget, put together a branded sun safety kit for employees. Be sure to include sunglasses (replica Aviator and Wayfarer styles are affordable and work for everyone), a lightweight long-sleeved T-shirt, wide-brimmed hat and sunscreen (at least SPF 30).
5. 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 branded BPA-free water bottles as employee rewards or incentives to make this one a no-brainer.