For many Australians, the workplace is a significant source of ultraviolet exposure. Outdoor workers have a high risk of skin cancer. It’s not entirely surprising that several workers with years of sun exposure now have skin cancer.
It is estimated that there are more than 34,000 cases of skin cancers each year in Australia. This number is only due to occupation sun exposures. Meta-analyses have discovered that the risk of squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) of the skin is nearly double for outdoor workers compared to indoor workers. Meanwhile, basal cell carcinoma (BCC) increases by almost 1.5 per cent for those who remain outdoors to do their job.
When it comes to skin cancer, prevention is always better than cure. Both employers and employees should work together to ensure that the workplace is safe for everyone. However, it is one of the primary duties of employers to create a plan and identify UV exposure hazards. Doing so will strengthen their safety measures and implement them throughout the company and its operations.
What All Employers Should Know
All employers are required to protect workers from harm. They should provide a safe working environment without any health risks. One step is reducing overexposure to UV radiation. If workers are not protected against the sun, they are encouraged to speak out and raise the issue with the manager or any Health and Safety representative.
Educating employees is necessary to achieve the goal of a safe workplace. Working under the hot sun can cause different problems, including rashes, cramps, exhaustion, and heatstroke. These signs should not be ignored:
Heat illness is fatal, mainly if left untreated. These circumstances, including death due to UV overexposure, are unfortunate but can often be prevented.
How Sunscreens Can Help Protect You
Australia, especially Western Australia, has sunny days for most of the year. Even if it is cool and cloudy, it does not mean the workers are not exposed to ultraviolet rays. There are ways to protect the skin from sun damage, and one is through the use of sunscreen.
What is sunscreen? Sunscreens, such as those from Pro Choice and Sun Zapper, protect the skin. They combat the sun by blocking its ultraviolet radiation so that the skin does not absorb it. UV radiation is what damages the skin, not the sun itself. If workers stay outdoors for a long time without protection, it could lead to sunburns and even skin cancer.
You will often hear or read “SPF” on a sunscreen label. The number is a measure of how well the product protects the skin against ultraviolet B or UVB rays. This type of ultraviolet rays is the cause of sunburns. The other type is UVA, which is what contributes to skin cancer. However, UVB exposure can also lead to cancer.
The SPF label does not mean the product can block UVA rays, but it does help when the number is at least 30. This Pro Choice sunscreen has an SPF of 50, which means that it can block 98% of UVB rays. No product can provide complete UVB blockage.
Sunscreen Tips for Everyone
Applying sunscreen does give you more time to stay under the sun without worrying about skin redness. However, you will still not get 100% protection. Even if you use sunscreen, it does not mean you should stay outdoors for an unlimited time. Skin cell damage continues to happen. To further protect yourself, please follow these tips:
- Choose a sunscreen that has SPF 30 or higher. The Sun Zapper Ultra Clear Zinc Sunscreen offers an SPF of 50+.
- A broad-spectrum sunscreen is a good choice because it protects your skin against both UVA and UVB.
- It also helps if you select a sunscreen that is water-resistant or waterproof. Although it is not a huge requirement unless you will go swimming, this type of sunscreen is useful for outdoor workers. Since they could sweat a lot, water-resistance offers extra protection for about 40 minutes or more, depending on the label.
Go for the sunscreen that you trust so that you can use it again and again. You can find products in the form of lotions, gels, ointments, sprays, and even as a stick, such as the Sun Zapper Zinc Sticks.
Knowing how to apply sunscreen is crucial so you can truly benefit from the product. The key is to use enough:
- Apply on all areas that will not be covered by your clothing.
- You need an ounce of the product, equivalent to a full shot glass, for the exposed areas of the body. You might need more depending on your size.
- Make sure that you already have sunscreen on your dry skin at least 15 to 30 minutes before you go outdoors. It does not take effect right away. The product should be absorbed by your skin first.
- You also need to reapply after about two hours. If you sweat or swim, you will have to reapply more often.
Sunscreen is beneficial in saving your skin from sun damage. But it is not enough. You should complement it with certain products, protective clothing, and other measures:
- Seek shade whenever appropriate, especially when working outdoors.
- Make sure you stay hydrated.
- Limit exposure to the sun from 9 AM to 3 PM when the UV rays are at their peak.
- Wear a face sock to protect your face while under the sun.
- Wear a hat with a wide brim.
- Your clothing should cover most of your skin.
- Light coloured clothing with a material rated UPF 50+ can help prevent heatstroke.
- Do not forget your sunglasses, which should have an eye protection factor (EPF) of 10.
Whether employed or self-employed, it is required to use sun protection whenever at work. Employers should discuss the matter with their employees. This way, everyone will know that cooperation is a must to ensure safety in the workplace at all times.