In the construction industry, most workers spend the majority of the of the day outside. From roofing, to excavating, to framing, there are many jobs that require lengthy periods of time outdoors. With the summer months just around the corner, the sun’s intensity is nearing its peak. Any amount of direct exposure to the sun increases the chances of developing skin cancer, which workers should be aware of.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, it’s estimated that approximately 9,500 people are diagnosed with skin cancer every day in the United States. They project that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer at some point in their lifetime. With so many individuals at risk of developing this type of cancer, employers need to provide education on protection for workers whose job duties require a significant amount of sun exposure. OSHA has provided a sun exposure resource to help guide employers with providing education and protection to workers. We’ve recapped the essentials below.
Self-Examination Catches Skin Cancers Early
If you or one of your workers sees one of the following skin conditions, going to a dermatologist is recommended.
- Sores that won’t heal
- Red, scaly, or sharply outlined red patches
- Small, mole-like growths
- Pale, wax-like, pearly nodules
Prevention is Better Than Treatment
There are steps that any worker can take to avoid the level of sun exposure that’s likely to cause sun damage to occur. Practical tips like the ones below can prevent the development of painful, potentially deadly types of skin cancer.
- Bundle up. Wearing thicker clothing or clothing with a specially designed UV-resistant coating helps to shield against the UV rays that cause skin cancer. If you hold your clothing up to the light and can see your hand through it, you need something thicker to provide an adequate level of protection.
- Put on a hat and shades. A broad brimmed hat helps to protect areas of the face and neck that can be tough to keep covered. It may also help you feel cooler too! Your eyes experience UV exposure as well. Wearing sunglasses with a UV coating helps to protect your eyes from damage.
- Wear sunscreen on uncovered areas of the skin. Sunscreen with an SPF of 15 blocks out 93% of the sun’s rays. Follow the instructions on the bottle, making sure that you reapply sunscreen during the day. One application in the morning isn’t enough to take you through an entire work day.
- Know when the sun is most intense. From 10:00 in the morning to 4:00 in the afternoon the sun is at its peak intensity. Your UV exposure is highest during those hours.
Educating your workers on the dangers of sun damage and the common sense ways to prevent it can help eliminate the painful and costly treatment for skin cancers late in life. Knowing how to spot skin cancer early on increases the chances that it can be treated more effectively.
If you’re interested in learning more about spotting skin cancers early and how to prevent them, the following resources provide additional information.