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Safety Matters


Our blog discussing workplace safety opportunities in Nova Scotia and around the world.

How to stay safe in the sun this summer

As the sun shines brighter and warmer, more outdoor work gets underway and Nova Scotians get out to enjoy the nicer weather.

The summer months give us a chance to partake in outside activities that source our health and wellness. As we know, sunshine is an excellent source of vitamin D and has been proven to reduce stress. However, it’s crucial to prioritize sun safety to protect your skin from harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Take proactive steps to prevent sunburn, reduce the risk of skin cancer and many other sun-related conditions.

According to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, exposure to ultraviolet radiation can lead to skin cancer, sunburn, eye damage and premature skin aging, especially when the UV levels are the highest between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer, yet the most preventable. When working outside every day, exposure to the sun is inevitable. Outdoor workers are 2.5%-3.5% more likely to develop skin cancer than indoor workers.

Here are some of the largest industrial groups exposed to the sun:

  • Construction
  • Farming
  • Building care and maintenance

If you employ outdoor workers or are one yourself, know that working outside in the summer can be enjoyable and rewarding when sticking to a few sun safety measures. Here are 5 ways to stay safe in the sun this summer:

1. Apply sunscreen

Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a high SPF (Sun Protection Factor). Apply it generously to all exposed skin, including your face, neck and ears and any uncovered areas. Reapply every two hours or more frequently if you’re swimming or sweating.

2. Implement a shade policy

Create shaded areas or rest stations where employees can take breaks and seek shelter from the sun during their shifts. Use umbrellas, tents, or natural shade sources to provide a cool and protected space. Encourage workers to utilize these areas and take regular breaks from the sun. Providing shade structure on equipment or machinery is essential. Whenever possible, schedule harder tasks during cooler parts of the day.

3. Wear protective clothing 

Cover your skin with lightweight, breathable clothing that provides adequate sun protection. Opt for long-sleeved shirts, long pants and wide brimmed hats that shade your face, neck, and ears. Don’t forget to wear sunglasses with UV protection to shield your eyes!

4. Stay hydrated

Hydration is vital for outdoor workers. Ensure there is a continuous supply of water and encourage workers to drink plenty of water throughout the day to maintain hydration and regulate body temperature, as sun exposure can lead to dehydration.

5. Stay informed 

Conduct regular check-ins with employees to assess any signs of heat-related issues. Stay up to date on the latest sun safety guidelines. Be aware of the UV index in your area and plan accordingly. Make necessary adjustments and communicate any updates with workers, ensuring that their safety remains a top priority.

Remember, protecting yourself from the sun’s harmful UV rays is essential for preventing skin damage, premature aging, and reducing the risk of skin cancer. By following these sun safety measures, you can enjoy the summer while mitigating the risks associated with sun exposure.

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