We are seeing a very active period for ticks at present. We recently published an article on how ticks are remaining active year round, so we won’t refer to where we are now as ‘tick season’, but they are certainly highly active.
There are a number of precautions you can take, including tucking socks into trousers and using repellents. At Tilhill we are constantly looking out for better products to help reduce the tick risk and this summer will be trialling a new repellent. Treated clothing is available from a number of suppliers and Tilhill make this available to our own staff. Those that use it report good results with noticeably fewer ticks incidents.
The key control is to do a thorough tick check at the end of each working day and remove ticks quickly and safely.
Cancer caused by what people do at work is nothing new. The first case of an occupational cancer in the UK was identified in 1775 – ‘soot wart’, a skin carcinoma suffered by chimney sweeps who were diagnosed as young as their late teens. It took another 150 years to find out that it was down to a carcinogen found in coal soot. Today Non-Melanoma skin cancer is the second most common diagnosed work related cancer.
What are the risks? Skin cancer is one of most common forms of cancer in the UK. Too much exposure to UV radiation from the sun can cause skin damage including sunburn, blistering, skin ageing and in the long term could lead to skin cancer. Those with a family history of skin cancer (and those with pale skin/fair hair) may be more at risk.
Don’t be complacent about exposure to UV from the sun, even on cloudy days or through a tree canopy, exposure can be higher than you expect.
Simple advice for outdoor workers:
• Keep your top on! Cover up by wearing appropriate clothing
• Stay in the shade whenever possible, especially during breaks
• Use a high-factor sunscreen (at least SPF15)
• Watch for symptoms that include: appearance of new moles or spots, changes to shape, size, colour of moles and spots or if they itch or bleed (seek medical advice)
• Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.
With vegetation in full summer bloom and maturity the risk of encountering a Phyto- Photo-Dermatitis (PPD) causing plant is at its highest.
PPD occurs when the sap from the broken stems and leaves of certain plants touch the skin which is then subsequently exposed to ultraviolet light (still produced if the weather is cloudy).
Within 24-48 hours the affected area will first redden and, in most cases, be followed by blisters that can be painful for a couple of days. In many cases the blisters will lead to a brownish pigmentation that can remain on the skin for years.
Brush cutting these plants creates a high risk of spray of the sap and likely skin exposure. Look for their presence on site when conducting point of work risk assessments. More information can be found in our Toolbox Talk TT/06.
Below are the details of plants known to cause this reaction:
Giant Hogweed grows up to 5 metres tall. The stem starts growing in March/April and is green but develops dark red/purple spots or blotches during the summer. Leaves are dark green, have deeply cut lobes with ragged edges, can be 1 metre across and form in a rosette. Flowers are white, umbrella-like and up to 500 mm across and appear from June in the fourth year.
Avoid environmental harm: As it spreads, it endangers the survival of native plants. The loss of other vegetation may lead to excessive erosion of soil as the Giant Hogweed dies back in winter. Avoid prosecution: It is illegal ‘to plant or otherwise encourage’ the growth of Giant Hogweed. This could include moving surrounding soil which may contain either seeds or plant material unless as part of an eradication process.
Wild Parsnip lives for two years. The first year as a spindly rosette close to the ground. In the second year a hollow, grooved stalk rising 0.6-0.8 metres high. Flowers are yellow and flat topped umbrella-like clusters at the top of the plant. Wild Parsnip rosettes are among the first plants to become green in spring and its flowers turn a prominent yellow in midsummer. Wild Parsnip is often found in roadsides, abandoned fields, unmown pastures and edges of woodlands.
The wild carrot is a herbaceous, somewhat variable, biennial plant that grows between 0.3 and 0.6 metres tall, roughly hairy, with a stiff solid stem. The leaves are tri-pinnate, finely divided, lacy and overall triangular in shape. The flowers are small and dull white, clustered in flat, dense umbels. They may be pink in bud and there may be a reddish flower in the centre of the umbel. The lower bracts are three-forked or pinnate, a fact which distinguishes the plant from other white flowered umbellifers.