The Sun: A Construction Site Hazard for Outdoor Workers

Outdoor workers face many potential dangers in their line of work, from machinery injuries to working along the side of a busy road, but one danger they can’t see is the sun’s ultraviolet rays.  It’s easy to overlook sun protection at a busy worksite.  They spend many hours in the mid-day sun, which is a major risk factor for all skin cancers, including the most serious, melanoma. 

Outdoor workers receive more ultraviolet radiation (UV) exposure than the general public for many reasons, including:

Long workdays spent in the sun.

Sweating may also contribute to UV-related skin damage because it increases a person’s photosensitivity of the skin leading to the risk of sunburns. 

Sunscreen wears off when you sweat so sunscreen needs to be reapplied often.

UV radiation reflects off of water, sand, concrete, light-colored surfaces and snow.  Even when wearing a hat, UV radiation will reflect off the ground surface and can damage the skin.

Even on a cloudy day, up to 80% of the sun’s ultraviolet rays can pass through the clouds.

Be protective of your bodies when working outdoors.  A few simple steps will let you be active and protect your skin from the sun:

Seek shade when appropriate.  Avoid the sun’s rays between 10a.m. and 2 p.m. when they are the strongest.

Wear protective clothing – long sleeves, pants, long pants, a wide-brimmed hat that shades the face, ears and back of the neck and sunglasses. short hair, diligently protecting their scalp and ears.  Chronic sun exposure to unprotected skin on the scalp and ears can cause significant skin damage that dramatically increases risk of skin cancer on those sites.

Schedule breaks in the shade and remember to apply sunscreen generously – use a broad spectrum, water resistant sunscreen with an SPF30 or higher.  Reapply every two hours, even on cloudy days and after excessive sweating.

Because water, snow and sand reflect and intensify the damaging rays of the sun, use caution!

If you truly want a tan, avoid tanning beds and consider using a self-tanning product or spray and continue using sunscreen along with it.

We also recommend you see a dermatologist if you notice a new, changing or non-healing spot.  If you notice a spot that appears different from others, or itches and bleeds, please schedule an appointment to see a board-certified dermatologist.

Need an appointment to address your skin concerns?  Call (610) 288-2908 or schedule online.

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Dr. David Manion, M.D.
June 25, 2018