Economic evaluation of interventions to reduce solar ultraviolet radiation (UVR) exposure among construction workers
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Solar ultraviolet radiation is one of the most common occupational carcinogens in Canada and is responsible for approximately 5,556 non-melanoma skin cancers per year. A large part of these cases are preventable by reducing solar ultraviolet radiation exposure. In this study, investigators estimated the potential economic impacts of different solar ultraviolet radiation reduction interventions among construction workers, as they are one of the largest at-risk occupational groups. Investigators performed an economic evaluation from a societal perspective, by comparing incremental costs in relation to incremental benefits achieved by two interventions-use of personal protective equipment by all exposed individuals and use of shade structure wherever and whenever feasible. Interventions costs were estimated for 2020-2050, and benefits with a 10-year delay, i.e., for the period 2030-2060. Economic evaluation estimates were reported by intervention costs, total costs of non-melanoma skin cancers cases averted, incremental cost per avert case, return on investment, and the break-even point. Various sensitivity analyses were undertaken with key parameters. Our findings indicate that if the rising trend of incidence continues, cases will be double in 2060, whereas by using personal protective equipment or shade structure, with the best-case scenario of full ultraviolet radiation removal, would result in 6,034 and 2,945 cases averted over 30 years, respectively. This translates into a total of $38.0 and $20.5 million of averted costs (all monetary values represented in 2017 Canadian dollars). Under this scenario investigators expect that by 2060, for every dollar invested in personal protective equipment and shade structures, $0.49 and $0.35 will be returned, respectively. Findings also suggested that under a conservative scenario, prevention of non-melanoma skin cancer cases by personal protective equipment and shade structures resulted in $5,812 and $7,355 incremental costs, respectively, over the 30-year period. This study provides important insights for decision makers about the potential impacts of solar ultraviolet radiation reduction interventions in the construction sector and other sectors with substantial outdoor work. Our estimates also can raise awareness of the importance of solar ultraviolet radiation reduction interventions.