To help protect outdoor workers exposed to sunlight, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration today issued suggestions to safeguard employees from harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation.
OSHA’s pocket card on harmful sun exposure recommends that workers who spend time outdoors protect themselves from UV radiation by wearing protective clothing that does not transmit visible light; broad-brimmed hats that protect the face, ears and neck; and UV ray-blocking sunglasses. Workers also should frequently apply sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor of 15 or higher, and seek shade, if possible, when the sun’s intensity is at its peak-between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Sunlight is the main source of UV radiation, which can cause eye damage, premature aging of the skin, and skin cancers, such as melanoma. Melanoma accounts for more than three-fourths of skin cancer-related deaths each year, though most skin cancers can be cured if detected early enough. Skin cancers and deaths resulting from melanoma are increasing rapidly in the U.S. even though fewer cases of most other cancers are being reported.
Unprotected employees working in sunlight risk exposure to UV radiation. Outdoor workers with fair skin and hair, freckles, or numerous or irregular moles are especially susceptible to sun damage. Even a few serious sunburns can increase the risk of skin cancer.
Seasonal warm months pose special hazards for outdoor workers who should protect themselves against heat, sun exposure, and other hazards. Employers and employees should know the potential hazards in their workplaces and how to manage them.