Everyone should be conscious of regular, prolonged sun exposure, but especially outdoor workers. As the summer months approach when sun exposure is at its peak, many of us could use a refresher on key sun safety tips.
When you're spending time outside for leisure, it can be easier to remember to apply and reapply sunscreen as needed. Outdoor workers like contractors, gardeners, construction workers, and truck drivers are often exposed to sunlight all day. And when you're hard at work, it's not always easy to remember to protect your skin—but it's crucial.
Sun Safety Tips for Outdoor Workers
Sun protection measures are important for everyone to prevent the harmful effects of prolonged sun exposure. These tips are especially relevant to outdoor workers who are at increased risk of skin cancer.
1. Know the Risks
Sun safety tips start by arming yourself with knowledge. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 5 million Americans are treated for skin cancer every year. Since outdoor workers spend a lot of time out in the sun and near surfaces that reflect sunlight, such as concrete or metal, the CDC recommends several forms of sun protection for outdoor workers as a preventative measure.
There is a positive correlation between working outside and risk of sun-related skin diseases. Increased risk of skin cancer due to your profession is known as occupational exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation, and it is something that researchers have been gathering evidence on.
A 2020 study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found that outdoor workers are more likely to develop non-melanoma skin cancer due to their outdoor occupation. The growing body of research suggests that outdoor workers need to implement sun safety tips since they are more at risk than the average person with an indoor occupation.
2. Check the UV Index, and Plan Accordingly
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) describes the UV Index as the expected intensity of UV radiation from the sun on a given day.
Even at low UV index scores, the EPA recommends protecting skin with a broad-spectrum sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher. Higher UV index scores increase the risk of sun-related skin damage, so sun safety precautions are especially encouraged.
Checking the UV index regularly will help remind you of the importance of wearing sunscreen daily and utilizing other measures to protect your skin from the sun.
3. Protect Your Scalp and Beard
One misconception about applying sunscreen is that it is not needed on areas covered by thin layers of hair, such as the scalp and beard. Both the scalp and areas hiding beneath facial hair can get sunburned. A product like the EltaMD UV Sheer Broad-Spectrum SPF 50+ has a lightweight texture that applies nicely over facial and thinning hair, so all areas of exposed skin are protected.
4. Use a Broad-Spectrum Sunscreen Everywhere, Every Day
Keep a broad-spectrum sunscreen for face and body on hand and reapply every two hours when working outside. The EltaMD UV Active Broad-Spectrum SPF 50+ is perfect for outdoor workers since it is water- and sweat-resistant for up to 80 minutes (the maximum water-resistance certification), suitable for the face and body, and uses physical filters for all skin types, including sensitive skin. Don't forget a lip balm with SPF, too.
5. Wear UV Protective Clothing and Accessories
Covering your head and wearing sunglasses can protect from both the sun and heat. Opt for a wide-brimmed, dark-colored hat that covers your whole face. When choosing sunglasses, be sure to select a pair that offers UVA and UVB protection for your eyes and the skin around them. This can also prevent vision problems in the long term.
Remember to apply sunscreen under sheer clothes like standard t-shirts if possible. Since clothing has the tendency to move around and stretchy fabric may allow some light to pass through, it's a good idea to apply a layer of sunscreen on any parts of the body that could become exposed as you work.
If you or a loved one is an outdoor worker, it's time to put these sun safety tips into practice. Protecting your skin from the sun requires little effort, but the benefits down the road can be huge.