The Hazards of Outdoor Workers in the Summer

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The Hazards of Outdoor Workers in the Summer

Workers who are exposed to extreme outdoor heat may be at risk of heat stress, sunburns, and even skin cancer. Exposure to extreme heat can result in occupational illnesses and injuries. Heat stress can result in heatstroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps, or heat rashes. Heat can also increase the risk of injuries in workers as it may result in sweaty palms, fogged-up safety glasses, and dizziness.

Beyond the dangers of heat stress, long periods of exposure in direct sunlight can be just as harmful.  Sunlight consists of two types of harmful rays: ultraviolet A (UVA) rays and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. UVA rays (which pass through window glass) penetrate deeper into the dermis, the thickest layer of the skin. UVA rays can cause suppression of the immune system, which interferes with the immune system's ability to protect you against the development and spread of skin cancer. UVA exposure also is known to lead to signs of premature aging of the skin such as wrinkling and age spots.

The UVB rays are the sun's burning rays (which are blocked by window glass) and are the primary cause of sunburn. A good way to remember it is that UVA rays are the aging rays and UVB rays are the burning rays. Excessive exposure to both forms of UV rays can lead to the development of skin cancer.  This is why it is very important for outdoor workers to always use sunscreen.

Richard Rich, R&R Lotion, Says:

“Workers should use a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against both UVA and UVB rays. However, only three major FDA-approved ingredients protect against UVA rays: avobenzone "Parasol 1789," titanium dioxide, and zinc oxide. These ingredients are known as UVA filters and are found in two forms: chemical and mineral. Avobenzone depends on a chemical reaction within the skin, while titanium and zinc oxide reflect light from the skin's surface, blocking harmful rays. Titanium protects against only short-wave UVA, while zinc protects against both short-wave and long-wave UVA rays.”

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