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Workers' Compensation Benefits for Consequences of Sun Exposure
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Workers' Compensation Benefits for Consequences of Sun Exposure

Workers' Compensation

The summer season brings attention to working outside, sun exposure, and the risk of skin cancer. Workers' Compensation coverage offers a unique opportunity to provide affirmative action to prevent, detect and treat high-risk workers before the disease takes a fatal course.

While working outside has the connotation of working in clean air and a healthy environment, the reality is quite the opposite. With a reduction of the world's ozone layer, workers exposed to the sun are at an increased risk of developing skin cancer at an even shorter exposure time. 

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates sunscreens. This initial first step will most likely expand the government's role in getting skin cancer under control. In the meantime, exposed and diagnosed workers must rely upon the workers' compensation programs for treatment and benefits as a result of occupational-induced skin cancer resulting from occupational exposure to the sun. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) does not specifically mandate personal protective equipment for exposure to solar radiation. 29 C.F.R. § 1910.132.

Workers' Compensation insurance companies and employers should heed the government's recommendations and take affirmative action to protect employees and provide medical evaluations for medical monitoring and surveillance. That action may include: avoiding exposure to the sun,  seeking regulation of medical monitoring, and mandating the use of sunscreens in the workplace. The risk of sun exposure is well known, and employers should be encouraged to protect workers from such obvious and deadly commonplace exposures. Benefits may be awarded for melanoma and other solar-induced cancers.  See Spivey v. City of Bellevue, 389 P. 3d 504 - Wash: Supreme Court 2017, Weaver v. City of Everett, 450 P. 3d 177 - Wash: Supreme Court 2019, MATTER OF HAM v. RUMSEY SHEET METAL, INC., 125 AD 2d 810 - NY: Appellate Div., 3rd Dept. 1986.


The author, Jon L. Gelman, practices law in Wayne, NJ. He is the author of NJ Workers’ Compensation Law (Thomson-Reuters) and co-author of the national treatise Modern Workers’ Compensation Law (Thomson-Reuters). For over five decades, the Law Offices of Jon L Gelman  1.973.696.7900 have represented injured workers and their families who have suffered occupational accidents and illnesses.

Recommended Citation: Gelman, Jon L.,  Workers Compensation Benefits for Consequences of Sun Exposure, (2011-2023),

© 2001-2023 Jon L Gelman. All rights reserved.

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