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Original research
Risk assessment of occupational skin cancer among outdoor workers in southern Spain: local pilot study


Objective Overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation is the main preventable cause of skin cancer. Outdoor workers, exposed to the sun for many hours throughout their working lives, are at special risk. The aim of this study is to determine occupational photoexposure and photoprotection among outdoor workers employed by a municipality in southern Spain.

Methods Cross-sectional descriptive study focusing on outdoor workers employed by the municipality of Fuengirola (in areas such as construction, gardening, urban cleaning and beach maintenance). The participants were monitored by personal dosimetry, participated in a dermatological check-up and answered a validated questionnaire (CHACES) on their habits, attitudes and knowledge related to sun exposure.

Results The median effective erythema dose of exposure to solar UV radiation during the working day (n=20) was 379.4 J/m2, equivalent to 3.8 standard erythema doses, almost 3 times higher than the recommended limits for an 8-hour workday. Skin examination (n=128) revealed the presence of actinic lentigines (79.7%), actinic keratoses (8.6%) and skin cancer (3.9%). The CHACES questionnaire (n=128) revealed a sunburn rate of 50.0%. Photoprotection practices were markedly deficient: only 16.7% of the survey respondents sought protection in the shade, 20.3% avoided exposure during the peak exposure hours and 33.1% applied sunscreen.

Conclusions This is the first study to evaluate UV radiation exposure, occupational sun protection practices, sunburn and actinic injuries of different outdoor workers in one of the sunniest regions of Spain and underlines the need for effective interventions to protect outdoor workers’ health.

  • occupational health
  • environmental exposure
  • dermatology
  • occupational health services
  • radiation, nonionizing

Data availability statement

Data are available on reasonable request. All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as supplementary information.

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