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HSA Launch Guidance on Dangers of UV Rays for Outdoor Workers

In Ireland, skin cancer is the most common cancer with 13,000 cases diagnosed annually. Outdoor workers have a higher-than-average risk of skin cancer due to increased exposure to UV rays.

The Construction Safety Partnership (CSPAC) an Advisory Committee to the board of the Health and Safety Authority (HSA), has developed a quick information guide for employees and safety representatives to raise awareness about the risk of skin cancer from sun exposure. This ‘Employee Information Sheet-Protect Your Skin When Working Outdoors‘ highlights the dangers of UV rays to outdoor workers, what the UV index means, and offers tips on how to protect skin from the sun and dangerous UV rays.

Eibhlin O’Leary, Programme Manager, Occupational Safety, HSA, said, “we’re all enjoying this good weather, but when you are working outdoors and exposed to UV rays, there are higher- risks of skin cancer. Today, Thursday 15th June, the UV rays in Ireland are above 6 on the UV Index. Therefore when skin is exposed you are high risk so we are urging employers and safety representatives work together to ensure all outdoor workers are aware of the dangers and protected from the sun.”

“Outdoor workers should plan-ahead and check the UV index on your smartphone weather app and take measures to reduce the risk of exposure to direct sunlight.  UV is strongest, typically between the hours of 11am and 3pm, especially from April-September. As UV damage builds up over time, workers should also consider using sun protection all year-round, not just in summer months.”

If the UV index is 3 or more, be sure to follow the SunSmart 5 S’s:

  1. Slip on clothing that covers your skin.
  2. Slop on sunscreen SPF30 or higher. Apply 20 minutes before going outside and re-apply every two hours – more often if sweating.
  3. Slap on a hard hat with a brim or use a neck flap.
  4. Seek shade – plan your work outdoors to avoid peak UV sunrays (11am-3pm) and take breaks in the shade.
  5. Slide on sunglasses.

As employers are required to provide a safe working environment and should therefore plan, manage and risk assess how their employees will work outdoors. The CSPAC are reminding employers to:

  • Carry out a risk assessment and identify suitable controls for outdoor work (More information is available on the HSA website BeSMART.ie).
  • Inform employees about the dangers of sun exposure and how to take measures to protect the skin.
  • Plan how, where and when work will be carried out.
  • Provide broad-spectrum sunscreen (UVA and UVB protection) with an SPF of at least 30+.
  • Ensure breaks are taken in the shade.
  • Remember a combination of the controls above may be required.

Frank Kelly, Co-Chair, Construction Safety Partnership Advisory Committee (CSPAC), stated, “the work of the CSPAC is done in order to help improve safety and health in the Construction sector. The CSPAC are today raising awareness around the key risks to outdoor workers as they are at an increased risk to dangerous UV rays due to sun exposure. Our guidance offers key information on the simple steps to take in order to protect themselves and colleagues from skin cancer.”

The CSPAC guidance can be downloaded from the HSA website and shows the UV index with top tips on how to protect skin from sun exposure when working outdoors.

Download here – Employee Information Sheet – Protect Your Skin When Working Outdoors

Source: Health & Safety Authority

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