Summertime Safety

Safe Golf Cart Operations

HawkerPosted by Tonya Hawker

Golf carts have become quite a popular commodity these days, and not just for playing golf.  In fact, golf carts are used not only in country clubs, but also on automotive dealership lots, large manufacturing facilities, and even between buildings on large properties like schools, hospitals, hotels, and entertainment venues.  So yes, golf carts have become a fast, cheap, maintenance free way to get around a large foot-print.  However, driving a small, silent vehicle around a bustling facility can also present significant hazards.  A quick search of the OSHA website revealed over 120 incidents resulting in citations, injuries, and fatalities related to golf cart use.

 

Golf CArt

Here are a few hints to help reduce this exposure…

  • Controlled Access: Allow only specific employees to access or use the vehicle.  Controlling access can limit horseplay and unnecessary use.
  • Safety Rules: Require users to read and sign a copy of the company’s safety rules for the vehicle.
  • Identification: Assign a designated traffic route for use by the golf cart that doesn’t interfere with pedestrian or other vehicular traffic.  Consider highlighting the traffic patterns with marking paint to inform others of the traffic routine.
  • Enforcement: Administer strict disciplinary action for improper use or behavior by revoking privileges or terminating employment.  Safety compliance is critical!
  • Battery Charging: Charging should only be done in areas designed for that purpose. The area should be well ventilated and have spill response materials available to clean-up electrolyte spills.  Charging devices should be equipped with automatic shut-off devices.

Also consider clearly posting golf cart operating rules on all carts and don’t forget about training.  Golf Cart Operating Rules should be reviewed with designated drivers at hire and annual refresher training completed to reinforce the expected behaviors.  See sample rules below:

 

Golf Cart Safety Rules

  • Golf carts should be operated on clearly identified paths or perimeter roadways. Sidewalks should be used only where roadways &/or parking lots are not available, and then, only to the nearest adjacent street or parking lot.
  • Keys to unused golf carts should be controlled to prevent unauthorized use.
  • When operating the cart, always stay to the far right side of the lane to allow other vehicles to pass.
  • Always obey traffic rules and regulations.
  • Use extreme caution near building entrances. Park the vehicle away from doors, walkways, or covered areas.
  • Golf carts should be operated at a safe speed. The speed should be no faster than a well-paced walk.  Speed may also be subject to terrain, weather conditions, and total weight of the golf cart… So be cautious of your environment.
  • All occupants MUST keep hands, arms, legs, and feet inside the golf cart while it is moving.
  • No golf carts should be operated with more passengers than the seating provides. All passengers MUST be seated while cart is in motion.
  • Never back up without making sure there are no people or obstructions blocking the travel route.
  • Pedestrians always have the “right of way”.
  • Approach sharp or blind corners with caution and reduce speed.
  • NEVER operate golf cart on steep hills or severely sloped terrain. Stay on flat areas.
  • Never leave keys in a golf cart unattended.
  • When the golf cart is not in motion, the control lever should be placed in PARK (or neutral position) with the PARKING BRAKE SET. Then remove the key.

 

 

Additional information can be found at Golf Cart Safety.com, and from EHS Daily Advisor


 


Bunk Beds De-bunked!

KochPosted by Peter Koch

Housekeepers unite! It’s time we de-bunked. While bunk beds are common in many segments of the hospitality industry and serve to increase the occupancy of a room, they can be a real pain in a housekeeper’s day.  This becomes even more important as summer camps open and more bunk beds are in use.  Ask any housekeeper, “Which would you rather do, clean a bathroom or make up a bunk bed?”  Inevitably, they will choose bathroom duty. 

Bunk beds come in many shapes and sizes, but all have the same basic hazards:

These exposures increase the force it takes to do the same tasks as a regular bed, no matter the size.  Using proper technique as allowed by the bed configuration, lifting the edge of a twin mattress on a top bunk can put more strain on the shoulder and back than lifting the edge of a king mattress on a bed positioned at the housekeepers waist.  Pic 1 5 19

While there are no national statistics on bunk bed injuries among housekeeping staff, their design alone places limitations on the controls that can be implemented.  The best practice is transitioning to a “no bunk bed environment”.  However, this is usually beyond the scope of most housekeeping teams, so here are a few quick tips to tame bunk bed tasks:

  • Create space
    1. Move the bunk away from the wall so the team can work on both sides of the bed.
    2. No Bunk Monkeys - Assigning the smallest person to climb to the top bunk and do the work that can’t be reached from the open side is a widely used practice. However, this brings on its own set of exposures and is not recommended.

Pic 2 5 19

  • Work as a team
    1. Two housekeepers are recommended to tackle the bunk bed tasks. Working together they can share the load and reduce the forces required.
  • Remove the rails or work between them
    1. If the bunk has removable rails, take them down. This will allow the team to work without having to reach over it.
    2. If the rails can’t be removed, work between or under them when possible. This will also limit awkward postures.

Pic 3 5 19

  • Consider custom tools
    1. Using a pole or board placed under the mattress and between the rails can provide needed space and limit the length of time the mattress must be held manually.
  • Change positions to reduce sustained awkward postures
    1. Stand up to position the bedding.
    2. Kneel to spread, smooth and tuck.

Pic 4 5 19

 


Hand in Glove (Suitably Protected)

LarochellePosted by Greg LaRochelle, WCP

Soon in northern climes with the arrival of spring and the greening of the outdoors, we’ll be outside digging in the dirt starting our vegetable and flower gardens, pruning shrubs, cleaning up yard debris, and mowing the lawn.  To accomplish this, hand and power tools made of steel with honed edges, pointed ends, and sharp teeth will be used.  We’ll be spreading lime and fertilizer for a lush green landscape and maybe even applying herbicides and insecticides to control unwanted guests, orchestrating all of this with the use of our dexterous hands.  So it stands to reason, we should protect our “paws” and nimble fingers against cuts, chemical exposure, and the chance of infection from bacteria-laden earth.    

The obvious safeguard is to don a pair of gloves; but the selection of the right glove for the job is less apparent when you consider all the hazards (at hand).  This is the same perplexing issue many employers are faced with when conducting a personal protective equipment (PPE) assessment specific for hand protection.  The appropriate glove for protection against sharp tools may be an all-purpose leather glove or one made of cut-resistant Kevlar but the answer is less clear for safeguarding against chemical use. 

Gloves intended for protection against chemicals are rated for their resistance to permeation and degradation.  Permeation is a process by which a chemical can pass through the molecules of the glove material and degradation is a reduction in the physical properties of the glove material when exposed to a chemical.  In sizing up the situation for selecting the right glove, the safety data sheet for the chemical product should be reviewed with regard to its chemical composition.  Typically, the major constituent in weight percent is evaluated for PPE use.  From this “ingredient” information, the proper glove can be determined by referencing a rating chart.  The glove manufacturer Ansell has an online chemical resistance guide for 163 chemicals from acetaldehyde to xylene/xylol.  For example, if a certain manufacturing process involves the use of the organic solvent acetone, the Ansell chart indicates a laminate film glove as well as neoprene and natural rubber to be appropriate glove selections while nitrile and polyvinyl chloride gloves are not recommended for use.    

So review this glove rating chart or contact your PPE supply vendor to ensure the “hand in glove” is suitably protected against the chemical products in use.  You’ll likely find this resource to be quite handy. 

Also, check out these previous springtime related MEMIC blog posts, Your Lawn Mower is More Dangerous Than You Think and Spring Clean Up: Chainsaw Awareness.  Have a safe and bountiful gardening season!

 

 

 

 


What You Should Know About Zika Virus

LarochellePosted by Greg LaRochelle, WCP

With the emergence of “home grown” Zika virus in the Miami-Dade and Broward counties of Florida, OSHA has recently posted interim guidance for protecting workers from occupational exposure to Zika virus.  First identified in 1947 in the Zika Forest of Uganda, cases of Zika virus infection emerged in 2015 in the Americas and the Caribbean.  The virus is spread by Aedes species mosquitoes which are mostly concentrated in temperate climates.  Transmission of the Zika virus primarily occurs from the bite of an infected mosquito but can also occur from direct contact with infectious blood or bodily fluid and from an infected mother to her fetus during pregnancy and delivery.  Infection during pregnancy can cause brain abnormalities such as microcephaly.  Symptoms of infection typically last seven days and include fever, headache, joint pain, rash, and red or pink eyes.

The Control and Prevention section of OSHA’s interim guidance provides recommended actions for outdoor workers, healthcare and laboratory workers, and mosquito control workers.  Additionally, information is provided on the safe use of insect repellents along with reference to the OSHA bloodborne pathogens standard, personal protective equipment standards, and respiratory protection standard.  Recommended actions for outdoor workers include:

  • Using insect repellent
  • Wearing light-weight clothing and a hat with netting to conceal exposed skin
  • Getting rid of sources of standing water
  • Talking with supervisors on outdoor work assignments and becoming familiar with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s information on Zika and pregnancy
  • Seeking prompt medical attention if symptoms develop

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OSHA has published a QuickCard titled Zika Virus Protection for Outdoor Workers that is also available in Spanish.

The Zika Virus Exposures/Cases section offers general guidance for employers of workers with suspected or confirmed Zika with a link to the CDC Zika and Sexual Transmission website.   Recommended actions for employers include:

  • Informing employees of the symptoms of Zika
  • Training workers to seek medical evaluation if Zika symptoms develop
  • Ensuring workers with suspected exposure receive prompt and appropriate medical evaluation and follow-up
  • Considering options for granting employee sick leave during the infectious period

While a number of research companies are feverishly working on a vaccine for Zika with human clinical trials possibly occurring in 2016, it may be several years before the headline news reads “Eureka, a Cure for Zika!”  Until then, employers and employees have a shared responsibility to take appropriate precautions to avoid occupational exposure to Zika virus.  For more information on bloodborne pathogen control, PPE, and respiratory protection, check out the resources available in the MEMIC Safety Director.


Don’t be a Hot Head: Tips to Avoid Heat Stress

Whether you are working outside or participating in an athletic event like the TD Beach to Beacon in Maine, ASYMCA Mud Run in Virginia or New York Adventure Racing Association's Trail Series, avoiding heat stress is essential to achieving your goals and having a safe and enjoyable summer. Thousands of workers and athletes require treatment for heat exposure each year.  Here are some of the more serious heat disorders:

Heat Rash is the most common problem in hot environments and produces blister-like raised bumps on the skin that may itch or be painful to the touch. Treatment includes limiting time in the heat, keeping the skin dry and showering promptly after being in the heat.

Heat Cramps are painful muscle spasms that occur in the leg, arm, or abdomen. The cramps occur as a result of extended physical activity in a hot environment. Heat cramps are one of the first signs of dehydration. If you suffer from heat cramps you should rest and drink water and electrolyte liquids like Gatorade. Eat salty crackers to increase salt in-take. Do not use salt tablets. Try chewing on ice chips to cool down.

Heat Exhaustion is a result of the combination of excessive heat and dehydration. This serious condition, which left untreated, can lead to heat stroke. Symptoms include headache, nausea, dizziness and/or fainting, weakness, heavy sweating, thirst, moist-clammy skin, and elevated body temperature. People in this condition should be moved to a cool shaded area. Cool them with water or cold compresses to the head, neck, and face. Have them drink water and electrolyte liquids like Gatorade. If they cannot drink or become lethargic, call 911. Make sure someone stays with them until help arrives.

Heat Stroke is the most serious illness associated with working in hot environments and if left untreated will result in death. Symptoms include hot dry skin (sweating may or may not still be present), red-bluish skin, rapid pulse, confusion, loss of consciousness, seizures/convulsions, very high body temperature. Call 911 immediately. Soak clothing and skin in cool water and use a fan to create air movement. Make sure someone stays with the worker until help arrives.

Preventing heat stress in the first place is the goal and following these five tips will go a long way towards keeping you safe:

  1. Plan your day.  If you can, avoid strenuous activity during the hottest parts or the day. If possible, secure a shady spot near your activity zone to take breaks in and limit time in the direct sun.
  2. Wear the right gear. Light colored, breathable fabrics and hats that shade your face and neck will help to keep you comfortable under the sun’s rays. Eye damage is a concern, too – make sure your pair of sunglasses filters at least 90 percent of ultraviolet (UV) rays.
  3. Apply sunscreen early and often. The benefits of regular sunscreen use are well-documented, but studies continue to show that adults often don’t wear enough, if they wear it at all. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen (protecting against UV-A and UV-B rays) with an SPF of at least 15. Apply liberally 30 minutes before going outside, and every two hours thereafter.
  4. Stay hydrated. The more we sweat, the more important it is to replace the fluids our body has lost. Water is perfectly acceptable for short periods outside, but for longer stretches, you may want to consider replenishing your electrolytes with a sports drink. The Center for Disease Control recommends approximately one cup of water every 15 to 20 minutes. Alcohol, caffeine, and sugary drinks are not recommended, as they tend to dehydrate your body.
  5. Assess how you’re feeling on a regular basis. If you can, take the time to rest in the shade for a few minutes every hour and monitor yourself for signs of overexposure and dehydration. If you’re feeling dizzy, nauseated, or extremely fatigued, it’s likely a sign that your body needs a break from heat exposure. Muscle pain or spasms may indicate dehydration or low salt levels.  Don’t ignore these warning signals. Overextending yourself can be a serious health risk.

By taking some simple precautions and staying mindful of your body’s reactions to exertion and the temperature, many heat-related sicknesses, like heat stroke, dehydration, and sunburn can be avoided and your summer will be a lot more enjoyable. Check out these resources from NIOSH or the MEMIC Safety Director for more information on heat street. Running in the USA is also a great resource for outdoor events and clubs.


July is National Ultraviolet (UV) Safety Month!

 SoaresPosted by Tony Soares, CSP, CHMM, CSHE

We knew the “dog days of summer” were coming. Now that they are here, we should all be thinking about taking care of our skin. We spend more time outdoors during the summer months and we’re more exposed to the sun. The summer heat might feel great on your skin, but taking appropriate precautions both at work and at home makes good sense.

Ultraviolet light (UV) is part of the invisible light spectrum that reaches us from the sun each day. In fact, there are three UV spectrums called A, B and C. UVC is blocked almost completely by the ozone layer. UVA, the longer light wave, penetrates deep into the lower layer of the dermis and can cause permanent skin damage, premature aging, and skin cancer. UVB is the shorter light wave and does not penetrate the skin as far, but it can still cause skin damage, sunburns, and also skin cancer.

Since both types of ultraviolet light are harmful, and both are responsible for skin cancer, choose a broad-spectrum (UVA and UVB protection) water-resistant (if you think you may be swimming or sweating) sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 30 or higher.

A positive outcome from UVB exposure is the production of vitamin D, an organic compound essential for bone health and immune system function. However, using this as an excuse to work on your tan can lead to real problems, and isn’t a complete source for vitamin D. Consider this excerpt taken from the Skin Cancer Foundation website:

  • Our bodies manufacture vitamin D when the sun's ultraviolet B (UVB) rays interact with 7-dehydrocholesterol (7-DHC) present in the skin. "However, we can produce only a limited amount of vitamin D from UVB. A few minutes at midday are sufficient for many Caucasians," says Roy Geronemus, MD, clinical professor of dermatology at New York University Medical Center and director of the Skin/Laser Division at the New York Eye & Ear Infirmary. "After reaching the production limit, further exposure actually destroys the vitamin, decreasing vitamin D levels."
  • Furthermore, UV exposure is unlikely to produce enough vitamin D in darker skin, so African-Americans and dark-skinned Hispanics relying on UV alone are especially at risk for deficiency. The National Institutes of Health's Office of Dietary Supplements also warns that the elderly have a reduced ability to synthesize vitamin D from sunlight; and between November and February, UV radiation (UVR) is insufficient to produce vitamin D in people living above 42 north latitude, which includes Boston, northern California, and other areas north.
  • Finally, prolonged exposure to UVR is linked to skin cancer, immune system suppression, photoaging (sun-induced skin aging), cataracts, and other eye damage. Therefore, The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends obtaining vitamin D largely from food or supplements while continuing to follow the Foundation's skin cancer Prevention Guidelines.

According to OSHA, workers must be protected against known hazards. UV radiation is certainly a known hazard. Although sunscreen can be considered appropriate PPE for workers exposed to the sun, it also appears on the list of PPE items that employers are not required to pay for. But that doesn’t mean that workers are on their own, or that employers shouldn’t be concerned about protecting their workers exposed to the sun. Workers should limit their time in the sun, especially between 10 AM and 4 PM, wear clothing to cover the skin (including a hat), wear sunglasses, and reapply sunscreen every 2 hours.

For more information on sunscreen protection, please visit the Skin Cancer Foundation website, the Cancer Net website, the CDC website or our previous sun safety posts.


Don’t Hold the Ice: Crushed Ice for Control of Heat Stress

JonesPosted by Anthony Jones, R.N., COHN

Today is the first day of summer!  The Summer Solstice, being the longest day of the year, is a glorious day for those who like fun in the sun.  However, heat related illnesses in the workplace present a significant hazard.  Early in my career in occupational health nursing, I saw a big problem with heat related disorders in the leather manufacturing industry.  The process of leather manufacture requires tremendous amounts of heat for drying wet leather hides.  Couple this with the hot and humid weather of July and August and employees were at risk. Workers were frequently suffering from the symptoms of heat related disorders and in severe cases required emergency transport to the local hospital. 

Air conditioning systems in manufacturing facilities, or even offices, may not be able to keep up with the demand as summer progresses.  But working outside may be even more hazardous as the hot sun shines down on road construction crews, landscapers, and agriculture employees.  

As a reminder, look over the typical signs and symptoms of heat related stress from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)

Heat Exhaustion:

  • Heavy sweating
  • Weakness
  • Cold, pale, and clammy skin
  • Fast, weak pulse
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fainting

Heat Stroke

  • High body temperature (above 103°F)*
  • Hot, red, dry or moist skin
  • Rapid and strong pulse
  • Possible unconsciousness

But why wait until a person is exhibiting the signs and symptoms of a heat stress disorder?  These problems can be significantly reduced by simple approaches to injury prevention. Frequent rest breaks in a cool environment and providing plenty of fluids with the opportunity to drink them.  The following tips are from the Mayo Clinic; click here for more information. 

  • Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing
  • Avoid sunburn; wear a hat and appropriate sunscreen
  • Seek a cooler place and avoid the hottest spots or hottest portion of the day
  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Take extra precautions with certain medications
  • Let your body acclimate to the heat

Back in my tannery days, during a very prolonged hot spell the company provided ice chips from an ice provider. The workers chewed on the ice chips and cooled their drinks. It was so well received, the company purchased its own ice machine. New studies say crushed ice has shown its superiority in cooling firefighters, electrical utility workers, and miners in severe heat stress situations. Ingestion of approximately 12-16oz of crushed ice for a 200lb worker is recommended.   

Ice availability along with frequent breaks in air conditioned spaces encouraged the drinking of fluids.  Watching out for each other made a big difference as well. The result was the elimination of heat related disorders and the production levels remained high. So don’t wait until it’s too late; start providing cooling procedures as a preventive measure. 

Check out this OSHA Quick Card and Heat Stress Guide or these other Safety Net posts for additional information.  Stay safe this summer!


Preventing Heat Stress in the Workplace

Tonya-Hawker Posted by Tonya Hawker

It’s summertime, and that means hot temperatures. Employees who work outdoors or inside hot environments are at risk for heat stress illnesses. In fact, it’s not surprising to see many production environments that are not air conditioned, and temperatures can quickly reach dangerous levels. That’s why it is important to protect your employees from the “Hazards of the Heat”.       

Heat stress occurs when the body becomes unable to cool itself. There are many factors that may cause heat-related illnesses. High temperatures during summer months are the most obvious causes of heat stress, but there are other factors that contribute to this condition, including:

  • Low fluid intake by the worker (dehydration)     
  • Direct sun exposure (with no shade) for long periods (i.e. Landscaping/Facilities Maintenance, etc.)
  • Extreme heat from job task (i.e. No A/C in Service Departments, Paint Booths, etc.)
  • Limited air movement
  • Physical exertion
  • Use of bulky protective clothing and equipment
  • Poor physical condition or on-going health problems
  • Some medications 
  • Lack of previous exposure to hot workplaces
  • Excessive alcohol intake the day before
  • Previous heat-related illnesses

Types of Heat Disorders  

Heat-related illnesses often begin with minor symptoms. Heat fatigue is usually the first symptom. Conditions include a decline in performance (particularly physical activity), mental tasks, or tasks requiring concentration. Heat can also increase the risk of other injuries due to sweaty palms losing grip on tools, fogged-up safety glasses limiting visibility, dizziness and balance issues, as well as burns from hot surfaces.

More serious heat disorders include:  Heat Rash, Heat Cramps, Heat Exhaustion, and the deadliest risk is  Heat Stroke. Employees and Supervisors should be trained to recognize these symptoms and administer treatment plans. Here are the guidelines:

Heat Rash is the most common problem resulting from working in heated environments. A heat rash produces blister-like raised bumps on the skin that may itch or be painful to the touch. Treatment includes limiting time in the hot environment, keep the skin dry, and shower promptly after being in the heat.

Heat Cramps are painful muscle spasms that occur in the leg, arm, or abdomen. The cramps occur as a result of extended physical activity in a hot environment. Heat cramps are the first sign of dehydration. The worker should rest and drink water and electrolyte liquids like Gatorade. Eat salty crackers to increase salt in-take. DO NOT use salt tablets.

Heat Exhaustion is a result of the combination of excessive heat and dehydration. This is a serious condition, which left untreated, can lead to heat stroke. Symptoms include headache, nausea, dizziness &/or fainting, weakness, heavy sweating, thirst, moist-clammy skin, elevated body temperature. Employees in this condition should be moved to a cool, shaded area. Cool the worker with water or cold compresses to the head, neck and face. Drink water and electrolyte liquids like Gatorade. If the worker cannot drink or becomes lethargic, call 911. Make sure someone stays with the worker until help arrives.

Heat Stroke is the most serious illness associated with working in heated environments. If left untreated, heat strokes will result in death. Symptoms include hot dry skin (sweating may or may not still be present), red-bluish skin, rapid pulse, confusion, loss of consciousness, seizures/convulsions, very high body temperature. Call 911 immediately. Soak clothing and skin in cool water and use a fan to create air movement. Make sure someone stays with the worker until help arrives.

Preventing Heat Disorders

The best way to prevent heat illness is to make the work environment cooler. If the work environment is not air conditioned, then consider installing portable fans and air chillers. If cooling devices are not available and/or temperatures remain excessive, other measures should be taken to minimize the heat related effects.

Workers who are new to a job in a hot environment, or workers who have been away for more than a week should be acclimatized to the work environment. This means that the worker should start out slow and work up to the physical activities required in the hot environment. NIOSH recommends the following schedule:

  • Employees with no prior exposure to hot environments - start out at 20% exposure per day with a 20% increase in exposure each additional day until full day exposure is reached.
  • Employees with recent prior exposure to hot environments- start out at 50% exposure on day 1, 60% exposure on day 2, 80% exposure on day 3, and 100% exposure on day 4.

Employees should be provided plenty of water and electrolyte liquids when working in hot environments. On average, workers should be encouraged to drink 1 cup of water (or electrolyte liquid) every 15-20 minutes. The use of salt tablets is not recommended, but a small amount of salt with food is encouraged during hot days to replenish the minerals lost from sweating.

Frequent breaks are necessary. Breaks should be provided in areas that are cooler than the work environment. If possible, heavy work should be scheduled during the cooler parts of the day and appropriate protective clothing provided. Consider using shifts and assigning additional workers for work pacing during excessively hot work-shifts. The permissible heat exposure threshold recommended by OSHA will vary depending on the type of work completed and air temperature within the work environment. For more information on specific work/rest restrictions, see the OSHA website. OSHA also provides a mobile device app that can be used to calculate the heat index and includes reminders and protective measures to take based upon the heat index.

  image from www.cdc.gov


Sun Safety: Got You Covered! (Part 3)

Peter Koch 2014 Posted by Peter Koch

True or False:  Water reflects more UV than snow.

The answer is False.  Snow is a better reflector of light in all wavelengths (visible and UV) than water.  Fresh snow can reflect as much as 80-90%, while water reflects less than 25% on average. - Albedo

Many times we will find ourselves outside in an environment where the area around us conspires to increase our risk of skin damage.  The last Sun Safety blog, Fan of the Tan, reviewed risk factors that put you at greater risk for sun damage.  This installment will cover what you can do to protect yourself. 

While you can’t change who you are and many times you can’t change where you live, you have control over what you do.   What can you do to protect yourself?  Initially, limit the number and duration of high risk activities such as sunbathing or using tanning booths.  Also, limit exposure.  Try to schedule activities or work before 10am and after 2pm when the sun’s rays are least intense.  If you are working during that time, take breaks in the shade or bring shade with you on the job.

Factoid:  If you're unsure about the sun's intensity, take the shadow test: If your shadow is shorter than you, the sun's rays are the day's strongest. – OSHA Protecting Yourself in the Sun

When you are outside, the American Cancer Society advises to Slip! Slop! Slap! and Wrap!

  • Slip on a shirt:  Cover up with protective clothing to guard as much skin as possible when you're out in the sun.
    • A thin white t-shirt has a SPF of about 4.  Darker colors absorb more UV.
    • Choose comfortable clothes made of tightly woven fabrics that you can't see through when held up to a light.
    • Test your fabric: Place your hand between a single layer of the clothing and a light source.  If you can see your hand through the fabric, the garment offers little protection.

 

  •  Slop on sunscreen:  Use sunscreen and lip balm with UVA & UVB protection and a SPF of 30 or higher.
    • SPF 15 blocks 93% of UV and SPF 30 blocks 97% - SPF doesn't determine the length of protection, just the amount of UV that is blocked.
    • Two types of Sunscreen
      • Chemical UV Absorbers
        • Chemicals that work like a sponge on your skin to absorb UV for a set amount of time
        • Needs time to bond with skin; does not work right away
        • Harder to rub off
      • Physical Reflectors
        • Tiny metals that work like aluminum foil to reflect UV away from your skin
        • Doesn't need time to bond with skin; works right away
        • Easier to rub off
    • Apply a generous amount of sunscreen to unprotected skin at least 30 minutes before outdoor activities.
    • Reapply every 2 hours and after swimming, toweling dry, or sweating.

 

  • Slap on a hat:  Cover your head with a wide-brimmed hat, shading your face, ears, and neck.
    • If you choose a baseball cap, remember to protect your ears and neck with sunscreen.

 

  • Wrap on sunglasses:  Wear sunglasses with 100% UVA and UVB absorption to protect your eyes.
    • UV can cause cataracts, macular degeneration, blindness and melanoma of the eye.
    • Wear large sunglasses that block 99-100% of UV rays.
    • Lenses don't have to be dark or expensive - Look for lenses labeled UV 400 or ANSI Z80.3.

There are exposures, both at and outside of work, so regardless of the exposure; take steps to understand your skin cancer risk factors, reducew your risk, and Slip! Slop! Slap! and Wrap!

Want to know more about Sun Safety, register for MEMIC's Sun Safety webinar here.

 


Sun Safety: Fan of the Tan? (Part 2)

Peter Koch 2014 Posted by Peter Koch

When did tans become fashionable?

Centuries ago, tans were looked down upon by the upper classes, and fair, pale skin was considered the most beautiful. Tans were the mark of the working class laborer, while the wealthy stayed indoors, keeping their skin covered and protected.   In the 1920s, style-maker Coco Chanel returned from a vacation to the French Riviera with a deep tan, and suddenly, tans were in vogue.  – Tale of Tanning

Recall from the last Sun Safety blog – Just the Facts, that a tan, rather than being an indication of health, is actually a response to injury, because skin cells signal that they have been hurt by UV rays by producing more pigment.  Not everyone reacts to UV radiation equally.  Some of us are at greater risk.

Your personal risk factor for being harmed by UV overexposure is determined by who you are, what you do, and where you live.

SunBurnSafetyTips

Who you are:

There are certain risk factors that you naturally carry, and while you cannot change them, knowing that you bring them to the tanning table can help you make better decisions about exposure.  General risk factors include:

  • Skin type
  • Eye and hair color
  • Family or personal history of skin cancer

There are 6 types of skin based on how likely it is to tan or burn. - Sun Safety Alliance

  1. Always burns, never tans, sensitive to UV exposure.
  2. Burns easily, tans minimally.
  3. Burns moderately, tans gradually to light brown.
  4. Burns minimally, always tans well to brown.
  5. Rarely burns, tans profusely to dark.
  6. Never burns, deeply pigmented, least sensitive.

Although everyone's skin can be damaged by UV exposure, people with skin types I and II are at the highest risk.

We can be genetically predisposed toward skin damage.  People with red or blond hair, or blue or green eyes have been statistically shown to be a greater risk of skin damage from UV radiation.  They tend to burn more easily and tan less, producing less protective pigment (melanin). - CDC

Family history can be a predictor of skin damage.  If there is a history of skin cancer in your family (parents or grandparents), you may have a greater risk of developing skin cancer than someone who does not have that history.  Unfortunately, this doesn’t work in reverse.  Just because you don’t have a family history doesn’t mean you aren’t vulnerable.  Everyone is at risk, some more so than others.

Where you live:

Where you live, work, or play can play a part in your UV exposure.  People that live at higher altitudes are exposed to greater levels of UV radiation, because there is less air mass to absorb it.  On average your UV exposure will increase 5% for every 1000 ft above sea level you are.  Also, there are some latitudes that have more sunny days than others. 

What you do:

What you do can also put you at greater risk for skin damage.  This, of all of the previous risk factors, is the area we have most control over.  Consider some of these lifestyle questions:  Do you live an outdoor oriented lifestyle or work outside most of the year?  Do you sunbathe or go to a tanning booth regularly?  Are you typically outside without sun protection?  Some subtle changes here can have significant reductions in your overall exposure to UV.

There are exposures both at and outside of work, so regardless of the exposure; take steps to understand your skin cancer risk factors, reduce your risk, and Don’t Be a Fan of the Tan!

Want to know more about Sun Safety, register for MEMIC’s Sun Safety webinar here.