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Stay protected in the sun this harvest
02 August, 2018
With the UK recording one of the hottest, driest summers on record, we look at how you can stay protected in the sun.
The effects of UV radiation
What are the dangers?
Ultraviolet (UV) radiation contributes to skin burning, skin cancer and premature aging of the skin. Sunburn is a clear sign that the DNA in the skin cells has been damaged by too much UV radiation from the sun. Whilst most will assume it is the heat from the sun which damages the skin, the infrared rays which release this heat can not burn you. Indeed, it is the UV rays which cause the damage to the skin and are extremely dangerous because you can’t actually feel them, meaning you can still get sunburn on cool days. The significance of the damage UV rays can cause is highlighted by the fact one incidence of painful sunburn every two years can triple the risk of melanoma skin cancer.
Who is most at risk?
Outdoor workers have a higher than average risk of developing skin cancer
Long-term exposure to the sun causes skin damage and every episode of sunburn increases the risk of getting skin cancer. In order to stay protected, the average sized adult should apply:
at least 1 teaspoon of sun cream to each arm, leg, front of body and back of body and half a teaspoon of sunscreen to the face (including ears and neck).
A person sitting in a vehicle can still receive significant exposure to harmful UV rays
Glass provides varying levels of sun protection. Therefore drivers may also be at risk, as glass is not completely sunproof; most glass used for windows blocks UVB but not UVA rays. It is recommended that people who spend long periods of time in a vehicle, when UV levels are 3 and above, use sun protection to protect occupants both in the vehicle and when they leave it.
UV welding arcs and flames emit intense visible UV and infrared radiation
UV radiation in a welding arc will burn unprotected skin just like UV radiation in sunlight. This is true for direct exposure to UV radiation as well as radiation that is reflected from metal surfaces, walls, and ceilings. Therefore UV protection cream should be applied to unprotected areas such as the face, tops of/behind ears and the neck.
What are your obligations as an employer?
Employers have a duty of care to protect their employees from hazards in the workplace and according to HSE guidelines, UV radiation should be considered an occupational hazard for people who work outdoors. Outdoor workers need to be protected as soon as the UV index reaches 3 (as shown below), not just when the sun is shining.
By implementing a skin protection routine, you can help your staff to understand why skin protection is important and encourage them to do so by having the correct products readily available on site. Sun cream is often not applied correctly or frequently enough to provide the right level of protection. Used correctly and frequently, SPF30 should offer sufficient protection for an outdoor worker; however best practice suggests using a higher factor and re-applying every two to three hours to ensure protection. Don’t forget the 5 ‘S’ approach for outdoor working:
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<div style="text-align:center"><h3>Stay protected in the sun this harvest</h3><a href="https://theafgroup.co.uk/blog/farming/stay-protected-in-the-sun-this-harvest"><img src="https://theafgroup.co.uk/shares/shutterstock_97387079.jpg" style="width:500px; max-width:100%; margin:15px;border:0;"/></a><br><br><br><a href="https://theafgroup.co.uk/blog/farming/stay-protected-in-the-sun-this-harvest">https://theafgroup.co.uk/blog/farming/stay-protected-in-the-sun-this-harvest</a><div>With one of the hottest and driest summers on record, we assess the dangers of working outdoors and how you can stay protected.</div></div>
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