Many workers say that worrying about their skin doesn’t rank very high on their list of priorities. But, those who spend all or even part of their workday outdoors are at risk for skin cancer as a result of overexposure to ultraviolet radiation (UVR).

Working around reflective or hot surfaces and equipment compounds the danger of overexposure to the sun. The most dangerous time of the day is between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun’s rays are strongest. If you must be outdoors during these hours, follow these suggestions:

Use sunscreen

Not just any kind, but one with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30. The American Cancer Society recommends applying sunscreen to all body surfaces not covered with hair, a hat, or clothing, about 20 minutes before going outside. If you perspire heavily or work around the water, use a waterproof sunscreen reapplied periodically.

Cover exposed areas

Sweltering temperatures can lure workers into unsafe sun behavior. Many workers complain that it’s too hot to wear pants and long-sleeved shirts. Instead, they choose shorts, tank tops, or go shirtless. The body of the less-dressed becomes a target for the burning sun. To help prevent burning, wear lightweight, tightly woven but opaque clothing.

Wear a wide-brimmed safety hat

This protects your head and face from direct sunlight. It should protect the ears, neck, temples, and lower face. A bandana worn around the neck provides further protection.

Wear sunglasses

Outdoor workers often overlook UVR damage to the eyes, yet the eyes are six times more sensitive than skin to ultraviolet radiation. Sunglasses or other protective eyewear is a must. Ultraviolet light increases the risk of cataracts and photokeratitis (inflammation of the cornea). Make sure employees wear sunglasses that block out UVR rays. This type of protection is particularly important if working around water.

Even on cloudy days, outdoor workers are at risk of overexposure from the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Clouds, wind or other weather conditions, and shiny or reflective surfaces like water or metal intensify the sun’s ability to burn the skin. By paying attention to the day’s sun forecast and taking the appropriate precautions, you can stay safe while working under the sun.  

 

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The above evaluations and/or recommendations are for general guidance only and should not be relied upon for medical advice or legal compliance purposes. They are based solely on the information provided to us and relate only to those conditions specifically discussed. We do not make any warranty, expressed or implied, that your workplace is safe or healthful or that it complies with all laws, regulations or standards.