Why Having Sun & UV Radiation Safety Procedures is Important
The most common source of ultraviolet (UV) radiation is the sun, however, harmful levels can also come from other sources. Excessive exposure to UV rays can be very harmful which is why people exposed to UV rays as part of their job should use caution to avoid its bad effects.
How Workers are Exposed
Examples of jobs with workers getting exposed to UV rays include:
- UV water filtration maintenance
- Tanning salon
The Dangers to Workers
Everyone responds differently to UV radiation and what may be a mild reaction to short-term exposure for some can develop into a more adverse reaction to others.
Effects of Short-Term Exposure
- Skin irritation
- Eye irritation
Effects of Long-Term Exposure
- Skin cancer
- Severe burns
People under the following conditions are more at risk of getting skin cancer:
- Light-coloured skin, eyes, and hair
- Exposure to the sun for long periods of time
- Had a number of blistering sunburns during childhood
- Taking medication that renders them sensitive to UV light
How to Reduce the Risks
When the outdoor UV index level is high, you should avoid working outside or at least try to decrease the amount of time you are exposed to the sun.
It is best to use UV protection even if it’s cloudy, hazy, or foggy weather because even during this weather, harmful UV rays are not being blocked from getting to you.
Elimination or Substitution
Fully eliminating the hazard using a different process or equipment is the most efficient control to implement. Consider asking:
- Can workers stay away from types of machinery that generate UV light?
- Can workers avoid getting exposed to UV by eliminating a certain process?
Modifications that can be done to facilities, machinery, and processes are all considered engineering controls. Exposure can be limited by asking questions like:
- Are damaged UV-emitting types of machinery quickly fixed?
- Can guards and shields be installed?
- Can shelters or enclosures be installed in workstations?
Changing policies, training workers, and making awareness tools more available can help to limit the risk of overexposure to UV rays. Also, workers can be asked to do indoor tasks when UV ratings are high, or at least have their exposure time limited.
Personal Protective Equipment
Because this is the least effective among the control methods, it should be paired with at least one of the other controls. Workers should wear proper personal protective equipment to shield and guard them against excessive UV exposure.
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