Throughout the year and especially during the hot summer months, people working in the sun have to contend with dangerous UV exposure. Even on cloudy days, workers are still vulnerable to up to 80% of the sun’s UV rays. It’s no wonder that skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the U.S., afflicting almost 5 million Americans and costing more than $100 million in lost productivity every year.
Fortunately, harmful UV exposure is preventable if you implement the proper safety precautions. Whether you work in construction, landscaping, or any other type of outdoor work, follow these 5 sun safety tips to maintain a healthy and productive workplace.
1. Wear protective clothing
The best way to protect workers from UV exposure is to cover as much skin as possible, which means wearing long-sleeve shirts and pants. We recommend moisture-wicking fabrics and layering the long-sleeve shirt with a cooling vest to avoid overheating, especially if it offers UV protection like this vest does.
Workers should cover their hands with work gloves, which not only offer protection from sun exposure but also cuts, punctures, and other workplace hazards. To optimize for comfort during hot weather, we recommend breathable gloves made of lightweight materials.
Finally, workers should cover their neck and face to the best of their abilities. We recommend neck bandanas, neck shades, or other cooling accessories to protect the neck and stay cool at the same time. As far as face coverings, these breathable face masks offer 99% UV protection and also protect against harmful microorganisms.
It may take some creative assembling, but providing top-to-bottom skin protection will minimize harmful UV exposure when working in the sun.
2. Apply sunscreen where needed
When it’s inconvenient or unfeasible to cover workers’ skin with protective clothing, sunscreen can be an effective fallback when used properly. Select a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a high SPF, ideally one that is water-resistant to combat sweat. Remember to wait 20 minutes after application before going out in the sun and to reapply every two hours. Depending on the time of day and UV index, workers may have to reapply even more frequently than that to ensure there are no gaps in its effectiveness.
3. Don’t forget about your eyes: UV safety glasses
The same UV rays that can damage your skin have also been linked to the development of cataracts and other eye conditions. This is why the American Academy of Ophthalmology encourages workers to protect their eyes by wearing safety glasses that block 99 to 100% of UV rays.
Wide brimmed hats can further protect workers’ eyes, as well as their faces and necks. Depending on your industry, they may need to wear a hard hat for head protection, but this shouldn’t deter you from offering UV protection as well. This ratchet hard hat offers UV protection, and hard hat neck shades are also available as a useful add-on.
4. Find shade when and where possible
Shade is a much desired refuge when working in the sun all day, not only to protect against UV exposure but also to prevent heat stress. Having an indoor facility, locating a natural shaded area, or even erecting a temporary structure like a tent may be a worthwhile investment. Designate breaks, meals, meetings, and prep time to these shaded areas to maximize time spent out of the sun. This can also be a good opportunity to reapply sunscreen if needed.
5. Encourage a safety culture in the workplace
Sun protection starts with recognizing its importance. Educate your employees about the risks of UV exposure, share helpful sun safety information, and provide them with the sun protection tools they need. The UV index is at its highest midday between 10am and 2pm, so if possible, create work schedules that minimize direct sun exposure during this time. You can also rotate workers to reduce their individual UV exposure during these peak hours. By implementing guidelines like these, you’ll set a standard of safety for your team to follow.
Explore sun safety wear at PalmFlex
UV exposure can be an intimidating component of working in the sun, but it doesn’t have to be. At PalmFlex, we aim to provide the safety wear needed for workers to thrive no matter the temperature. Browse our comprehensive warm weather collection and save with free shipping over $80. We also offer volume discounts and bulk quote requests so you can get the best deal on sun safety wear. Contact us to discuss your workplace needs and one of our experts will be happy to help. Visit our blog for more safety learning resources.