Sun Safety: 5 Tips Employees Should Know
Working in the sun takes a toll, but here’s how workers can mitigate it.
- By Robert Yaniz Jr.
- Aug 07, 2023
When a job requires workers to be out in the sun, employers should take steps to protect their staff. However, employees might also be wondering how they can combat the devastating effects of prolonged sun exposure. To that end, let’s review some strategies employees should know to keep themselves in the clear while working outside in the blazing-hot sun.
Make Sunscreen Part of the Workplace Routine
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health acknowledges sunscreen is a primary weapon to minimize the adverse effects of prolonged exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. But using sunscreen correctly is as important as applying it at all. Be sure to apply a minimum of SPF 15 as directed, and consider also factors such as humidity and perspiration.
Wear Appropriate Clothing to Repel Sunlight
Another smart move to keep sunlight at bay is to dress with sun exposure in mind. This includes wearing a UV-blocking hat—a wide brim is best—and sunglasses. Likewise, OSHA recommends tight clothing, preferably designed to repel the sun. Check to see if light can permeate the cloth, and if it does, it might not provide the protection workers need for extended sun exposure.
Evaluate the Risk Factors to Determine Individual Risk
Too much time in the sun isn’t good for anyone. But some people are predisposed to develop skin cancer or other illnesses tied to UV radiation. According to the National Cancer Institute, risk factors that might enhance someone’s UV sensitivity include a fair complexion, light colored eyes and hair and family history. Knowing individual risk factors can help workers prepare.
Conduct Regular Skin Checks to Prevent Illness
Even when taking the necessary precautions, it’s a good idea for people working outdoors to keep a close eye on their own skin. This might include frequent check-ups with a dermatologist. But workers can also perform skin checks at home. The Centers for Disease Control suggests regularly checking for moles or any irregularities, as these can be early signs of trouble.
Coordinate with Co-Workers to Secure Safety Protocol
Employers should already be taking steps to minimize the chance workers will fall prey to UV rays. However, if a company or direct supervisor isn’t taking action, it never hurts to start the conversation. The World Health Organization is actively committed to raising awareness of the effects of UV radiation. So workers should advocate for themselves in the workplace as well.
Robert Yaniz Jr. is the Content Editor of Occupational Health & Safety.