That’s a tough question. While skin cancer, in some instances, could arguably be an occupational disease that was substantially caused by a workers’ sun exposure while on the job, the difficulty is in proving the medical causal relationship between the skin cancer and the work activities.
Sun cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States and sun exposure is, without question, a cause of skin cancer. But, whether that exposure is during work hours or outside of work hours would be hard to determine. Because it would be so difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of skin cancer in terms of which period of sun exposure actually caused the cancer to develop, workers who develop skin cancer are probably going to have a difficult time in establishing these occupational disease claims for purposes of Minnesota workers’ compensation coverage.
The main types of skin cancer include basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma. Basal and squamous cell carcinoma are the most common types, making up 95% of all skin cancer and is highly curable.
Although there are a few cases in other states awarding benefits for work-related skin cancer, there are no documented cases in Minnesota awarding workers’ compensation benefits for skin cancer as a result of a workers’ exposure to the sun.
Some factors that would come into play when determining the compensability of sun-exposure related skin cancer would include:
- The strength of medical causation opinions, both for and against.
- The length of time the employee worked in an occupation involving sun exposure.
- Alternative personal risk factors, including smoking, family history, etc.
- The location of the skin cancer, i.e., did it develop in a particular spot that is always exposed to the sun as a result of work activities?
- Other sun exposure history, i.e., outdoor recreational activities, tanning, sun bathing, etc.
Regardless of whether skin cancer is covered under workers’ compensation or not, it is preventable. Employees who work outdoors should always take precautions to avoid excessive sun exposure.
- If possible, avoid sun exposure between 10 am and 2 pm.
- Apply high SPF sunscreen prior to sun exposure, and re-apply often.
- Wear a hat and a long-sleeve shirt.
- Wear sunglasses.
If you have skin cancer and believe it is due to your job in Minnesota that requires you to work outside much of the day, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Meuser Law Office, P.A. can help you navigate the often confusing Minnesota workers’ compensation laws.
To learn more about your rights, call Meuser Law Office, P.A. at 877-746-5680. The Meuser Law team of experienced Minnesota PERA and workers’ compensation attorneys provide assistance through every stage of the claim process. We will help you receive the benefits you deserve.