Focus On : Sun Safety & Heat Related Illness
Sun Safety - Protect Yourself from the Sun
Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in Canada. UV radiation from the sun not only causes skin cancer but is linked to premature ageing, cataracts and a decrease in immune system functioning (Health Canada). The daily UV index reading provides an indication of how strong the sun's rays are on any given day. Be sure to check the UV rating daily if you are working outside or plan on being outdoors.
It's easy to protect yourself from damaging UV rays. Simply follow the Canadian Cancer Society's SunSense guidelines:
- reduce sun exposure between the hours of 11am and 4pm
- remain in the shade when possible
- wear close-weave, light coloured fabric and a wide brimmed hat
- protect your eyes with sunglasses that provide 100% UV protection
- wear sunscreen and lip balm with a SPF of 30 or higher if you work outdoors, and 15 or higher whenever you are outside
Most skin cancers can be treated, but early detection is key. Know what you are looking for and check your skin regularly.
Risk Factors for Indoor/Outdoor Workers
Normal body temperature is 37° Celsius (98.6° Fahrenheit). This temperature must remain constant for the body to work well. When body heat increases, the body sweats in order to cool itself. When the humidity is high, sweat does not evaporate as quickly and has little or no cooling effect. The hotter or more humid the environment, the harder your body must work to get rid of its excess heat putting you at higher risk for developing heat stress.(IAPA - PDF 599KB, 4 pages)
Heat stress can lead to illness, disability and even death. (Ontario Ministry of Labour - PDF 87KB, 8 pages)
Click here for more information on the risk factors for heat stress and how you can reduce your risk.
Employers and employees need work together to recognize and reduce the risks of working in the heat. Follow these Indoor and Outdoor Worker Guidelines to ensure an safer working environment.
The Employer's Role
The Occupational Health and Safety Act states that an employer should provide information, instruction and supervision to a worker to protect their health or safety as well as take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of the worker. Employers should aim to have policies and procedures in place that educate and support employees who are exposed to UV radiation or hot working conditions.
Facts and Stats
- People who work outside are at increased risk of developing skin cancer.
- In 2001, a 44 year old baker in Ontario died from heat stroke. The employer was fined for violation of the Occupational Health & Safety Act.
- A National survey on sun exposure & protective behaviours found that approximately 61% of outdoor workers report wearing sunscreen.
- Non-melanoma skin cancers can be linked to occupational sun exposure.
- Implementing workplace policies and procedures on sun safety are more effective in encouraging sun protection behaviours than providing education alone.
Here are some other websites to consider for additional information: