Sunburn on someone's neck

Sun Exposure – Caring for teams that work outside

Sun Exposure – Caring for teams that work outside

The Sunshine State is unique in that the sun is out for almost the entire year. That means that if you or your team work outside, there is work to be done all year – you’re never snowed in or have to stop work because the ground is frozen.

With the ability to work outside all year comes the hazard of sun exposure all year also. Outdoor teams around the world only have to worry about serious sun exposure most during peak sun periods, but in Florida – every day can be a peak sunny day. While the work must go on, special precautions should be taken to avoid sun exposure like sunburn in the short term and potential skin cancer in the long term.

Sun exposure comes from the sun’s UV rays from the sun above and the reflection of the sun below. The sun’s rays are always shining on outdoor teams even when the weather may be cloudy. And according to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), many drugs increase sensitivity to sunlight and the risk of getting sunburn. Some common ones include thiazides, diuretics, tetracycline, doxycycline, sulfa antibiotics, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen.

How can sun exposure be prevented by workers whose jobs are outside?

NIOSH makes the following recommendation:

  • Sunburn on someone's neckWear sunscreen with a minimum of SPF 15.
  • SPF refers to the amount of time that persons will be protected from a burn. An SPF of 15 will allow a person to stay out in the sun 15 times longer than they normally would be able to stay without burning. The SPF rating applies to skin reddening and protection against UVB exposure.
  • SPF does not refer to protection against UVA. Products containing Mexoryl, Parsol 1789, titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, or avobenzone block UVA rays.
  • Sunscreen performance is affected by wind, humidity, perspiration, and proper application.
  • Old sunscreens should be thrown away because they lose their potency after 1-2 years.
  • Sunscreens should be liberally applied (a minimum of 1 ounce) at least 20 minutes before sun exposure.
  • Special attention should be given to covering the ears, scalp, lips, neck, tops of feet, and backs of hands.
  • Sunscreens should be reapplied at least every 2 hours and each time a person gets out of the water or perspires heavily.
  • Some sunscreens may also lose efficacy when applied with insect repellents, necessitating more frequent application when the two products are used together.

Another effective way to prevent sunburn is by wearing appropriate clothing.

  • Dark clothing with a tight weave is more protective than light-colored, loosely woven clothing.
  • High-SPF clothing has been developed to provide more protection for those with photosensitive skin or a history of skin cancer.
  • Workers should also wear wide-brimmed hats and sunglasses with almost 100% UV protection and with side panels to prevent excessive sun exposure to the eyes.

If you have concerns about sun exposure or potential sun damage to your team, remember that occupational medicine focuses on workplace safety in all workplaces. From physical exams to ideas that help establish a culture of safety, Jet Medical Center’s staff of physicians can help provide services to help establish the culture of safety. Call, click, or message us today to put our expertise to work for you and your business.

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Who is Jet Medical Center®?
Jet Medical Center® is a leading provider of occupational medicine services in the Tallahassee area. We develop, with our client partners, a customized healthcare plan to fit your company’s needs today and into the future.

Our experienced staff of clinicians provides excellent medical care and understands the Worker’s Compensation system and its impact on your company’s financial health. Your employees will have less downtime with less complications reducing overall medical costs.


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