Protective Measures Recommended for Workers Exposed to UV Radiation

OSHA recommends workers at outdoor jobsites exposed to sunlight take the following precautions to help safegard themselves from ultraviolet radiation exposure.

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The arrival of warmer weather means that an increasing number of workers will be working outdoors exposed to sunlight -- the main source of harmful, ultraviolet (UV) radiation, which can cause eye damage, premature aging of the skin, and skin cancers, such as melanoma.

In an effort to help workers safeguard themselves against UV radiation, OSHA suggests that they take the following precautions when working outdoors:

  • Wear protective clothing that does not transmit visible light,
  • Frequently apply sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor of 15 or higher,
  • Wear broad-brimmed hats that protect the face, ears and neck,
  • Wear sunglasses that block UV rays
  • Seek shade, if possible, when the sun''s intensity is at its peak-between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Be aware of the signs and symptoms of skin cancers and see a health-care clinician if an unusual skin change occurs.

"Melanoma accounts for more than three-fourths of skin cancer-related deaths each year, though most skin cancers can be cured if detected early enough," said Ruth McCully, OSHA Regional Administrator for New England. "Unprotected employees working in sunlight risk exposure to UV radiation. Outdoor workers with fair skin and hair, freckles, or numerous or irregular moles are especially susceptible to sun damage. Even a few serious sunburns can increase the risk of skin cancer. However, workers can take steps to protect their health and well-being."

To further assist workers and employers, OSHA has published a free pocket-sized card, "Protecting Yourself Against Harmful Sunlight" (OSHA Publication 3166), which provides detailed information on the hazards of UV radiation, symptoms of exposure, methods of protection and sources of additional information.

"These simple precautions plus a knowledge of the hazards of UV exposure are workers'' best allies in combating one of nature''s deadliest hazards, now and in summers to come" said McCully.

The pocket card is available on OSHA''s Web site at: www.osha.gov.

Further information on detecting, preventing and treating skin cancer is also available from the Web sites of the American Cancer Society, www.cancer.org, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, www.cdc.gov/ChooseYourCover.

by Melissa Martin

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