The Sun Can Cause Problems, Even During Winter Months
Sun protection may be the last thing on your mind this winter. However, outdoor workers are always at risk of sun exposure no matter the temperature.
Outdoor workers can face exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays for hours at a time. This is a major risk for a number of skin cancers, especially melanoma — the most serious form.
According to The Skin Cancer Foundation, one person dies from melanoma every hour, on average. The nature of outdoor work makes workers especially vulnerable.
Sweating can contribute to skin damage as it increases a person’s photosensitivity, which makes him/her more susceptible to sunburn.
Keeping Your Team Protected
The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends that outdoor workers take the following steps to protect against sun exposure and skin cancer:
1. Wear Sunscreen: Always wear an SPF of 30 or higher when working outdoors for an extended period of time. Sweating can make sunscreen come off faster, so it’s important to reapply every two hours.
The foundation also emphasizes the importance of remembering to keep your nose covered as 30 percent of the most common skin cancers occur on the nose.
Men who may be balding or have an exposed hairline should also apply sunscreen to the top of their head. Workers also shouldn’t overlook keeping their lips protected. Use a lip balm with SPF for proper protection.
2. Use Hats & Eyewear: Workers can get maximum protection for their heads and neck with a wide-brimmed hat. The Foundation advises that hats with opaque, densely woven fabric and a 3-inch brim or longer are best.
While hats can provide some protection to the eyes, sunglasses offer the best protection.
3. Know Your Environment: Just because it might seem cloudy or overcast, workers are still at risk of sun exposure. In fact, 80 percent of the sun’s UV rays can pass through clouds.
The sun’s rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., so proper protection and attire is always important.
4. Look for Signs of Sun Damage: The most telling signs of skin cancer or other skin damage is suspicious freckles, moles, and spots. Employers should encourage workers to keep an eye on anything that looks out of place.
Workers who have moles that are itching, bleeding, or have changed appearance should see a dermatologist.
Bringing It All Together
You can keep your workers protected this winter, and all year long, by making skin protection readily available. Always keep ample sunscreen on the worksite along with wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses.
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