Protect Your Workers from Skin Cancer

Wednesday June 11, 2014

BrendaBoomer2013-new“These beautiful days are such a relief after such a long, hard winter! Whether you work or play outside, you can use these tips to keep yourself, your employees and your family safe from skin cancer.” Brenda Boomer | Skin cancer accounts for almost half of all cancers diagnosed in the United States every year. And outdoor workers are at an extremely high risk for overexposure from the sun. As a result of being exposed to the sun’s rays at high levels and frequency, many construction workers and contractors develop skin cancer sometime in their life. And due in part to the fact that various detrimental effects of sun exposure occur later in life, many workers do not take the necessary precautions to protect themselves against the sun’s dangerous rays during their younger years. If the workers at your organization are doing any of the following, they are putting themselves at high risk for developing skin cancer:
  • Not wearing sunscreen
  • Not applying sunscreen frequently enough
  • Not wearing polarized eye protection
  • Incurring frequent sunburn
  • Wearing minimal upper body clothing when working in warmer temperatures
  • Not fully comprehending the dangers of the sun
As an employer, you can take an active role in helping your employees prevent skin cancer. Safety Considerations Take steps to ensure that your employees are adequately protected from the sun no matter the weather. To do so, consider providing sunscreen for all your employees at no charge. Storing it in multiple locations on the site will further enhance its usage. Uniform and Sun Protection Policy In addition to these general safeguards, consider implementing a uniform and sun protection policy at your organization, and maintain strict enforcement. Include including the following provisions in your policy:
  • Uniform shirts must be worn at all times.
  • In areas where hardhats are not required, a hat that will protect the face from the sun must be worn when workers are exposed to the sun for more than 20 minutes.
  • In working areas where an umbrella, tarp or other form of sun protection is provided, these must always be utilized.
  • In areas where eye protection is not already required, sunglasses must always be worn to prevent eye damage.
  • Sunscreen must be applied every hour to all exposed areas of the skin.
These safeguards ensure that the upper bodies of your workers (with the exception of necks and lower arms) are adequately protected from the sun at all times. And these safeguards will not only protect against skin exposure to the sun, it may counter the exhaustion and fatigue that many suffer when being outside in warm weather for long periods of time. Following uniform requirements also ensures that the public can quickly and easily identify workers – a great worker injury prevention technique.