Outdoor workers are at risk of developing skin cancer due to the time they spend working outdoors during their normal workdays. It is very important to protect yourself from overexposure to the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays.
- Basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma - these two are the most common forms of skin cancer. They are usually found on exposed areas, such as the face, neck, ears, forearms and lips.
- Malignant melanoma - is the most serious form of skin cancer and is the major cause of death from skin cancer.
Skin cancer is caused from overexposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun or artificial sources such as tanning beds.
Sun safety for outdoor workers
There are many protective measures that can be taken to ensure the safety of outdoor workers. Here are some ideas:
- Provide a canopy for large equipment operators.
- Reschedule outdoor work programs, if possible, to avoid the hottest times of the day.
- Rotate workers from outdoor to indoor tasks to limit time in the sun.
- Provide workers with packages of wipe on sunscreen, which is much easier and faster to apply than lotions.
- Provide neck flaps and wide brims for hard hats.
- Provide training on the risks associated with UV exposure.
- Develop a skin cancer prevention workplace policy that is incorporated into your Occupational Health and Safety program.
- Include sun safety tips in your company newsletter.
Protection for outdoor workers
The following are steps outdoor workers can take to reduce their exposure to UV rays:
- Wear sunglasses with 100% UV protection.
- Use sunscreen and lip balm with an SPF 30 or higher and reapply every two hours.
- Wear loose UV protective clothing that covers the arms and legs.
- Drink plenty of fluids to keep the body hydrated.
- If possible seek shade during the hottest time of the day between 11 am and 4 pm.
- Wear a neck flap and wide-brimmed peak on hard hats.
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