Protecting Outdoor Workers from Excessive Sun Exposure and UV Rays
The American Board of Industrial Hygiene® (ABIH®) reminds workers and industry of the need to protect employees’ skin and eyes from extreme UV exposure.
Protecting outdoor workers from excessive exposure to UV rays to prevent sunburns, skin damage and eye problems is important year round, but this is especially important during the summer months when UV rays are typically at their strongest.
With summer just a few weeks away, now is an ideal time for employers to remind their workers about the dangers of sunburns and skin cancer associated with excessive ultraviolet (UV) exposure. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This is also true in many other countries, especially those with large Caucasian populations who are typically at higher risk of developing skin cancer.
The CDC states that the most preventable cause of skin cancer is exposure to ultraviolet light. UV rays are part of sunlight, which includes three types: ultraviolet A (UVA), ultraviolet B (UVB) and ultraviolet C (UVC). The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) states, “UVA is the most abundant source of solar radiation at the earth’s surface and penetrates beyond the top layer of human skin. Scientists believe that UVA radiation can cause damage to connective tissue and increase a person’s risk for developing skin cancer. UVB rays penetrate less deeply into skin, but can still cause some forms of skin cancer. Natural UVC rays do not pose a risk to workers because they are absorbed by the Earth’s atmosphere.”
Millions of workers spend much of their workday outdoors and are continually exposed to UV rays, even during cloudy days. NIOSH reports that sunlight exposure is highest during the summer and between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. Those working outdoors during these times increase their chances of getting sunburned, a sign of skin damage. Years of overexposure to the sun can lead to premature wrinkling, aging of the skin, age spots and an increased risk of skin cancer. Workers’ eyes can also get burned from sun exposure and chronic exposure of eyes to sunlight may cause pterygium, cataracts and perhaps macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness.
“Protecting outdoor workers from excessive exposure to UV rays to prevent sunburns, skin damage and eye problems is important year round, but this is especially important during the summer months when UV rays are typically at their strongest,” said Susan Ripple, CIH® and Chair of ABIH®. “Employers have a responsibility to educate their workers who spend a significant portion of their time outdoors about protecting themselves from UV exposure. Certified Industrial Hygienists are uniquely qualified to help with these efforts. CIHs are trained in health risk analysis, hazard communication, work environments and personal protective equipment. These and other core competencies of the CIH® program are instrumental for ensuring a safe work environment that will not expose outdoor workers to excessive UV radiation that could lead to serious health concerns.”
To learn more about the American Board of Industrial Hygiene®, Certified Industrial Hygienist® credential or to locate a CIH® to perform industrial hygiene services, please visit www.ABIH.org, email abih@ABIH.org or call (517) 321-2638.
About the American Board of Industrial Hygiene ®
Since 1960, ABIH®, a not-for-profit corporation, has been the world’s largest organization for certifying professionals in the practice of industrial hygiene. ABIH® is the premier credentialing body responsible for ensuring high-quality certification including education, experience, examination, certification maintenance and ethics enforcement. Currently, more than 6800 people in 32 countries are certified to use the CIH® designation.
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