We are nearing the end of a very hot summer, but it’s not too late to protect yourself from sun exposure. Canadian workers need to protect themselves from both the heat and solar ultraviolet (UV) radiation.
Canadian sunlight is strong enough to cause health detriments whether you are working outdoors, or relaxing on the beach with friends and family. Sun exposure puts individuals at risk for heat stroke, heat cramps, heat rashes, sunburns, skin damage, skin cancer, cataracts, and other eye conditions. Did you know that 60% of outdoor workers are outside for at least six hours of the day, and are 3.5 times more susceptible to being diagnosed with skin cancer? (1) UV radiation causes roughly 90% of melanoma cases. Although skin cancer is one of the most preventable cancers, melanoma skin cancer has significantly increased over the past 25 years among men and women (2).
Have you been following proper protocol for enjoying the outdoors and working safely in the sun and heat?
Here are some tips to keep you safe while in the sun:
CHECK THE UV DAILY
- When the UV Index is 3 (moderate) or higher, you need to be careful to protect your skin
- Reduce sun exposure between 11am-3pm when the sun rays are the strongest
- Cover your skin as much as possible
- Wear a wide-brimmed hat
- Wear loose, breathable clothing and UV-protective labeled clothing
- Wear UVA and UVB protective sunglasses to help prevent eye damage
- Use SPF 30 or higher with both UVA and UVB protection
- If you’re in the water, use water-resistant sunscreen
- Put sunscreen on your ears, chin, and neck, even if you’re wearing a hat’
- Reapply after getting wet or every couple of hours
Employers can help protect their workers by implementing sun safety policies into their health and safety management programs.
WHAT CAN WORKPLACES DO TO ENSURE SUN SAFETY AT WORK?
- Develop and implement a sun and heat safety workplace policy
- Educate workers on sun and heat exposure via training, presentations, resources, and reminders
- Schedule work to minimize exposure
- Ensure workers are taking frequent water and rest breaks in high heat
- Provide sunscreen for employees to use on exposed skin at work
- Ensure workers are covered to protect themselves: hat with wide brim, long sleeve shirts and pants, safety glasses with UV protection, sunscreen with SPF30 or higher, and loose breathable clothing
IF A WORKER IS EXPERIENCING ANY OF THESE SYMPTOMS, ADMINISTER AID:
- If medical care is unavailable, call 911
- Remove worker from hot area and give liquids to sip
- Remove unnecessary clothing
- Cool the worker down with a cold cloth or ice
- Be sure one person stays with the worker until medical services arrive
- Sweating profusely
- Confusion, altered mental status, slurred speech
- Hot, dry skin
- High body temperature
KNOW THE SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF HEAT EXHAUSTION:
- Heavy sweating
- Elevated body temperature
- Decreased urine output
Next time you’re building a sand castle on the beach or installing an air conditioner make sure you’re covered up, loaded with sunscreen, and have plenty of fluids. Save your skin. Be Safe.
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