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Ensure you protect yourself from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation by taking the proper preventative measures. Thank you to our partners at CAREX Canada for providing their research and key messages to support this health and safety campaign.

The sun’s rays are harmful all year round but especially from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. between April and September, even when it’s cloudy. If you’re a worker who spends time outdoors, it’s important that you’re aware of the risks of UV rays, and know how to protect yourself to stay healthy and safe during the summer months.

Protect your skin

Skin cancer is the most common type of occupational cancer in Canada, and outdoor workers are at an elevated risk of developing skin cancer and experiencing the harmful effects of sun exposure. Skin cancer is also one of the most preventable types of cancer. Here are some simple things you can do to limit your exposure to the sun while working outdoors.

  • Where possible, work in natural, dense shade or use a good-quality shade structure that offers shade from the side and not just overhead, to protect against UV radiation that is reflected and scattered off concrete, water, sand, snow, and light-coloured surfaces.
  • Seek shade when you can. Use tents, tarps or canopies at work when possible, and take breaks in the shade.
  • Additional personal protective equipment (PPE) such as clothing, glasses with UV-protective lenses, and sunscreen is recommended, even when you’re in the shade to protect against reflected and scattered UV rays.
  • Wear loose, protective clothing and hats that cover as much skin as possible, including the face, ears, and neck. Light-coloured, tightly-woven or UV-protective labelled clothing is recommended.
  • Hats should shade the head, face, ears, and back of the neck with a wide brim or neck flap. A brim or neck flap can be attached to caps or hardhats to protect your face, ears, and the back of your neck.
  • Use sunscreen labeled “broad spectrum” and “water resistant” with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 on all exposed skin.
  • Apply sunscreen generously and re-apply frequently.
  • Remember to apply sunscreen on the ears and neck, and use sunscreen lip balm with an SPF of at least 15.

Protect your eyes

UV radiation that is harmful to the eyes is present in the sun’s rays all year round and throughout the workday. It’s important to protect your eyes from UV radiation, as radiation from the sun can cause cataracts and other forms of eye damage.

  • Wear safety glasses, sunglasses, or prescription eyeglasses with UV-protective lenses. Look for safety glasses, sunglasses, or prescription lenses with full UVA and UVB protection. Examples of appropriate labels are “UV400” or “100% UV protection.”
  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat or attach a brim to your hardhat for added eye protection at work.
  • Use eye protection when working around highly reflective surfaces such as buildings, snow, sand, and water.

Access the resources below for more information on sun safety and UV radiation in the workplace.