Safety at Work

Sun Safety in the Workplace

In Canada, outdoor work increases during the summer months, and as a worker, you need to be aware of the dangers of sun exposure and heat stress.

Sun exposure is the leading cause of skin cancer in Canada, and outdoor workers are 2.5 to 3.5 times more likely to develop skin cancer than indoor workers.

More than 85,000 Canadians were diagnosed with skin cancer in 2015, and these rates are increasing.

You should also recognize the signs and symptoms of heat stress:

  • extreme fatigue,
  • nausea,
  • dizziness,
  • confusion,
  • muscle cramps,
  • and fast,shallow breathing.

Since a decrease in alertness is also an early symptom, you may not know when you're in danger. If you or a co-worker exhibit symptoms of heat stress, seek medical treatment immediately.

Your first safeguard against sun exposure and heat stress is using tents or shade structures on machinery and equipment.

Schedule your hardest physical tasks for the coolest parts of the day, or outside the hottest hours of 11am to 3pm, which is also when UV levels are highest.

Your employer should schedule work-rest cycles to allow you enough time to cool down in a shaded area.

And drink lots of water - frequently.

Your last line of defence against sun exposure and heat stress is personal protection.

Wear sunscreen, and don't forget to reapply it throughout the day.

You should also wear long sleeves, hats, and sunglasses or safety glasses with UV protection. Exposure to ultra violet rays can lead to eye damage, even during the winter months.

Loose-fitting clothes made from fabrics such as cotton or silk allow air to pass through. This will help cool your body by evaporating sweat.

Wide-brimmed hats provide shade for your head, face, and neck.

If you have to wear a hardhat, use a brim attachment and neck flap to provide added protection and shade for your neck.

Working outdoors in the summer months can be a safe and enjoyable experience, as long as you plan for your workday, and protect yourself with a few simple measures.

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