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Saturday, July 17, 2010

Sun Exposure Can Cause Work-Related Cancers

I recently reviewed an article, “Skin cancer as an occupational disease: the effect of ultraviolet and other forms of radiation”[1] that explained: “Members of several occupational groups appear to be at a higher risk of skin cancer. There is an increased risk of skin cancer amongst outdoor workers, such as farmers, welders,…police officers, physical education teachers…. Although sun exposure is thought to be a common etiologic factor, some studies have suggested alternative explanations, such as irradiation from the welding arc in welders, [and] nonionizing microwave frequency radiation from radar use in police officers….Occupations in which there is an increased exposure to ionizing radiation, such as radiation technicians and radiologists, showed an increased risk for melanoma and NMSC” (non-melanoma skin cancers.)

Historically, federal workers compensation claims for skin cancer seem to be geographically distributed; letter carriers in the Southwest United States seem to file more skin cancer claims while such claims are quite rare in the Northeast.

Eczema is a less significant occupational disease for which health care workers are at risk as well as those engaged in printing, metal machining, motor vehicle repair, and construction.

In addition, NIOSH, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
has published a list of occupational carcinogens:
listing substances that cause a variety of cancers.

One tends to think of occupational disease claims as orthopedic in nature, to a lesser extent, psychological, along with some lung conditions and hearing loss, but there are a wide variety of complaints and disease types that may arise from the performance of duty in federal employment. Many occupational illnesses are underreported due to lack of awareness or fear. It is important to remember that occupational illnesses that can take many years to develop are also work-related, entitling injured workers to medical care, wage loss payments, and schedule awards.