Texas, Colorado, and New Jersey are all reporting record temperatures this week. However, warm temperatures don't stop outdoor workers. Each summer hundreds of workers across the country are admitted to hospitals for heat-related illnesses. Companies need to protect workers by developing a skin wellness program. Here is what you need to know about a major element of that program - sunscreen.
Excessive exposure to heat can cause a number of health issues including sunburn, heat stroke, heat rash, cramps, heat exhaustion and dehydration. One of the most important steps next to regular hydration is protecting your skin. To do this, a quality sunscreen product is recommended.
Only products that protect against the full spectrum of the sun's rays can claim to help prevent skin cancer. That means it's important to read your sunscreen labels and make sure the products you choose have the words "broad spectrum" or "UVA and UVB protection".
UVA rays cause wrinkles and leathery skin. In large doses they can cause cancer, but it's the UVB rays that are more commonly to blame for that.
In the past folks who really wanted to protect their skin would use zinc oxide, the lotion that stays white and creates a barrier. And while it does create an effective block to the sun's rays, it's also only on the surface, acting as a physical barrier. If it gets wiped away, there is no more protection.
Sunscreen also has to protect for the entire time you are out in the elements. It is a common mistake to assume that the effectiveness of a sunscreen can be calculated simply by multiplying the SPF by the length of time it takes a person to suffer a burn without sunscreen. But the amount of sun exposure received is dependent upon more than just the length of time spent in the sun.
SPF is related to the total amount of sun exposure rather than simply the length of sun exposure. The amount of sun exposure depends upon a number of factors including the length of exposure, time of day, geographic location, and weather conditions. Most sunscreens have an SPF of at least 15, but that doesn't take into account instances where the skin protection is wiped off accidentally, or when it fades because of sweat or water.
It's recommended that workers reapply sunscreen every two to three hours. While most good products will last for longer, it's rare in our experience that it stays on while moving and working in the sun for the full amount of time.
We recommend products that are sweat-resistant and will last longer for workers who are constantly working in the sun like the SunX SPF30 Lotion.
For easy reapplying options, individually wrapped SunX SPF30 Sunscreen packets are popular with workers because you can easily carry one or two in your pocket or toolbox and use them when you need them.
For the most effective sunscreen protection, make sure to read your labels and get a full-spectrum lotion. But even the most powerful sunscreen in the world can't protect workers from within the bottle. Require workers to apply sunscreen before work and to reapply every few hours while they are in the sun. This will do the most to help save their skin and fulfill your responsibilities as an employer during this long, hot summer.