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‘Embedding sun safety’: Guide aimed at protecting outdoor workers

Photo: Toronto Metropolitan University

Toronto — Involving sun-exposed workers in daily job planning and decision-making about personal protective equipment can aid the implementation of a workplace sun safety program, researchers say.

Thomas Tenkate and Peter Strahlendorf from Toronto Metropolitan University recently developed a guide to help protect workers from ultraviolet rays, heat stress and other hazards associated with sun exposure.

The duo encourages employers to assess current systems and processes for managing outdoor workers’ sun exposure. After that, they offer steps to begin and maintain a sun safety program:

  • Implement control measures aligned with the Hierarchy of Controls.
  • Develop processes to support control measures, including first aid and incident notification.
  • Monitor the success of controls and processes and take corrective action as needed.
  • Regularly perform management review of the program and strive for continuous improvement.

Steps to prevent and control occupational sun exposure include:

  • Wear loose-fitting clothing that covers your arms and legs, as well as a wide-brimmed hat.
  • Use sunscreen and UV-protective eyewear.
  • Take breaks in the shade and avoid being outside from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., when possible.
  • Drink water often and avoid drinks with alcohol or caffeine.
  • Know the signs and symptoms of heat stress, as well as how your workplace manages it.
  • Report changes in skin spots and moles to your physician as soon as possible.

“We are mindful that workplaces already have a range of occupational health and safety systems/processes in place to protect workers,” the guide states. “Therefore, the purpose of our sun safety program is to assist workplaces in embedding sun safety within their existing systems/approaches.”

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