Skin cancer accounts for more than half of the cancer cases in the nation each year. Exposure to the sun causes most of the more than 1 million cases of non-melanoma skin cancers (such as the basal or squamous cell type), which usually develop on sun-exposed areas of the body: Face, ears, neck, lips, and the back of the hands.
If your employees work outdoors during the summer, they should beware of these symptoms:
- Any change on the skin, especially in the size or color of a mole or other darkly pigmented growth or spot, or a new growth
- Scaliness, oozing, bleeding, or change in the appearance of a bump or nodule;
- The spread of pigmentation, such as dark coloring that spreads past the edge of a mole or mark
- Change in sensation, itchiness, tenderness, or pain.
Training outdoor workers to limit their exposure to the sun can help them not only to prevent skin cancer but also protect them against sunburn, premature skin aging, and eye damage.
Make sure that your employees:
- Avoid outdoor activities between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.
- Stay in the shade if they’re outside midday
- Understand that because ultraviolet (UV) rays will penetrate clouds, it’ possible to get a bad sunburn even on a cloudy day
- Know their risk factors for skin cancer such as a fair complexion, family history, multiple or atypical moles, and severe sunburns as a child.
If your workers must be outside during peak sunshine hours, have them use sunscreen and lip balm with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher, applied in generous amounts (about a palmful) several minutes before going outside, and reapplied every two hours – or after toweling dry or perspiring. They should also wear broad brimmed hats to protect their head, ears, and neck. Clothing should be dark colored, and made of tightly woven fabric treated with an Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) rating of 50 or higher. Workers can also wash sun protection into their clothes with an approved laundry additive that increases the protection and lasts through 20 washings.
Make sure that employees protect their eyes and the surrounding skin as well. They should wear sunglasses that provide 99% to 100% UV absorption and block both forms of UV radiation—UVA and UVB (pricier sunglasses or those with a darker tint don’t necessarily offer more UV protection). It’s wise to select wraparound glasses that offer side protection.