By Randy Palladino;
For over 17 years, the Laborers’ Health & Safety Fund of North America has run an annual Sun Sense campaign to raise awareness about the dangers of skin cancer. According to the American & Canadian Cancer Societies, nearly 3 million people in North America are diagnosed with skin cancer each year. Overexposure to the sun is the most common cause of skin cancer. LHSFNA through Laborers’ Local 91 distributes sunscreen, lip balm, and neck flaps to protect laborers from the exposure to sunlight. Laborers or anyone spending time outdoors should take the necessary precautions to minimize their skin exposure to harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays.
Of course, being outdoors for many is unavoidable so when you go outside, take these precautions:
- Most importantly, always wear sunscreen. Men, women and children should put it on every day and reapply throughout the day. Using an SPF (sun protection factor) of 30 is recommended. Any lower SPF will not protect your skin from harmful UV rays and any higher SPF gives a false sense of protection.
- Try to avoid sun in the middle of the day, from about 10 am to 3 pm. The ultraviolet rays, which cause sunburn, are strongest during this time. When you do go outdoors, especially for long periods in the middle of the day, wear protective clothing. Wear sunglasses that filter UV light.
This year in addition to the precautions of sun exposure, we are focusing on preventing heat stress. Working long days under the hot sun, sometimes in confined spaces or wearing personal protective equipment (PPE), puts Laborers at high risk for heat stress. Heat stress occurs when high heat or exertion levels do not allow the body to cool off fast enough. It leads to hydration, muscle cramps, heat exhaustion and in extreme cases, heat stroke. New information on preventing heat stress and ways to stay cool at work will be available at the training facility this summer.
The Laborers – Employers Cooperation and Training Trust encourages all members and employers to incorporate sun protection measures into their daily routine just as they would any other safety behavior. Regular and liberal application of sunscreen and minimizing midday and high sun exposures throughout the year will usually prevent skin cancer. Laborers need to use lip balm, neck flaps, cooling clothes and sun block towelettes available free at the Union hall to protect against damaging exposure to sunlight. The Laborers encourage everyone to take appropriate steps to protect themselves from harmful sun exposure.