If your staff and volunteers are working outdoors, they are at an extremely high risk for overexposure from the sun. And prolonged exposure to the sun can cause skin cancer, which accounts for almost half of all cancers diagnosed in the United States every year.
As a result of being exposed to the sun’s rays at high levels and frequency, many workers develop skin cancer sometime in their life. Detrimental effects of sun exposure occur later in life, so 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 and volunteers prevent skin cancer.
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. Store it in multiple locations to further enhance its use.
The Importance of a Sun Protection Policy
In addition to these general safeguards, consider implementing a uniform and sun protection policy at your organization, and maintain strict enforcement. Consider 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, this defense must always be used.
- 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.