Many workers do their job duties in the sun. These people have some unique risks that aren’t present for workers who are always inside. It is imperative that employers of these outdoor workers ensure that they have proper safety protocol in place.
There are some facets of working outside that can’t be controlled. When creating a safety plan, employers should create instructions for a variety of conditions, including hot weather with full sun and cooler conditions with cloud cover.
Daily sun protection
It doesn’t matter if the sun is shining brightly or covered with clouds, there is still going to be some level of exposure possible. This means that even in cloudy conditions, workers still need to take precautions to minimize their exposure. Using sunblock and wearing clothing that is appropriate for the conditions can minimize the risks associated with being in the sun. Wearing a hat might even be appropriate to offer protection to the head and face.
Limit time working directly in the sun
The time when sunlight exposure is the greatest is from 10 in the morning through 4 in the afternoon. Trying to keep workers out of the sun during this time can help. Employers should make sure that there is somewhere out of the sun that workers can take breaks so they aren’t always exposed.
Anyone who works in the sun or heat needs to be sure to drink enough water. Dehydration is a primary concern in these conditions. Sometimes, workers try to limit their fluid intake because of the need to use the bathroom. Employers should make sure that there are bathrooms or portable toilets at the worksite so that workers aren’t discouraged from drinking.
Beware of sensitivities
Some workers, such as those who take medications like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, tetracycline or diuretics, are at an increased risk of sunburn because these cause sunlight sensitivity. Employers should have special guidelines to help keep these workers safe.
Not only do workers who are out in the sun face the risk of sunburn and dehydration, there is also a risk of skin cancer. For workers who are injured due to working in the sun, workers’ compensation helps to pay for medical care and may provide other benefits if the person is unable to return to work quickly.