Workplace exposures

Surgeon General offers tips on protecting outdoor workers from the sun

Washington – As part of a campaign to help prevent skin cancer, Acting Surgeon General Boris Lushniak on Aug. 13 shared tips on how outdoor workers and employers can protect against sun damage.

Outdoor workers are exposed to ultraviolent radiation, which can cause skin cancer. The Call to Action to Prevent Skin Cancer campaign, launched July 29, notes that nearly 5 million Americans are treated for skin cancer each year.

Tips for outdoor workers include:

  • Wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 15. Sunscreens should be generously applied at least 20 minutes before sun exposure.
  • Cover ears, lips, neck, tops of feet and backs of hands.
  • Reapply sunscreen every two hours and every time after getting out of water or heavily sweating.
  • Wear protective clothing, preferably dark and tightly woven.
  • Wear wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses with 100 percent UV protection and side panels.

Tips for employers include:

  • Try to avoid scheduling work when sun exposure is high.
  • Provide shade or indoor break areas.
  • Train workers about UV radiation, including risks, prevention, and signs and symptoms of overexposure.