Protect Yourself and Your Employees From the Sun
By: Cady Barrett
When workers are exposed to the sun for long periods of time, their chance of getting sun cancer and other related skin diseases increases dramatically. Sunlight contains ultraviolet (UV) radiation, which causes a premature aging of the skin, wrinkles, cataracts, and skin cancers. Employers and employees must be aware that there are no safe UV rays or safe suntans. Sun exposure at any age can cause skin cancer. So be prepared if you or your employees are spending a lot of time outdoors. It’s important to examine your body monthly because skin cancers can be detected and cured if caught early.
Skin cancers often take the following forms:
- Pale, wax-like, pearly nodules.
- Red, scaly, sharply outlined patches.
- Sores that don't heal.
- Small, mole-like growths - melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer.
If you find such unusual skin changes, see a health care professional immediately.
The easiest way to prevent skin cancers is to simply block out the UV rays. You can do this by following these steps:
- Cover up. Wear tightly-woven clothing that blocks out light. Try this test: Place your hand between a single layer of the clothing and a light source. If you can see your hand through the fabric, the garment offers little protection.
- Use sunscreen. A sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 blocks 93 percent of UV rays. You want to block both UVA and UVB rays to guard against skin cancer. Be sure to follow application directions on the bottle.
- Wear a hat. A wide brim hat (not a baseball cap) is ideal because it protects the neck, ears, eyes, forehead, nose, and scalp.
- Wear UV-absorbent shades. Sunglasses don't have to be expensive, but they should block 99 to 100 percent of UVA and UVB radiation.
- Limit exposure. UV rays are most intense between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. If you're unsure about the sun's intensity, take the shadow test: If your shadow is shorter than you, the sun's rays are the day's strongest.