Save Your Own Skin | Skin Cancer Prevention for Outdoor Workers

Outdoor workers are exposed to ultraviolet (UV) rays, even on cloudy days. These UV rays can cause wrinkles, cataracts, skin aging, and skin cancer. With the increased UV radiation exposure that occurs with time, outdoor workers are at increased risk of developing skin cancer.

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the U.S., with nearly 5 million people treated each year. In addition, many thousands of people die annually from melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer. Fortunately, skin cancer is preventable in most cases.

Early Detection

Skin cancers detected early are nearly always curable. Take the time every month to do a head-to-toe skin evaluation, looking for changes in your moles or skin, and other indicators of potential skin cancer. When in doubt, always consult a medical professional.

Potential Skin Cancer Indicators

  • Irregular borders on moles, with ragged, notched, or blurred edges
  • Asymmetrical moles, where one half doesn’t match the other
  • Moles with non-uniform colors
  • Moles bigger than a pencil eraser
  • Itchy or painful moles
  • New moles
  • Sores that bleed and do not heal
  • Red patches or lumps


With just a few preventative measures, workers can greatly reduce their risks of developing skin cancer:

Use sunscreen: Find a sunscreen that protects against UVA and UVB radiation. It should also be water-resistant and have an SPF of 15 or higher. Apply sunscreen before sun exposure and reapply at least every two hours. Don’t forget to use it on your lips, ears, scalp, neck, hands and feet.

Cover yourself: Wear clothes with a tight-weave or high-SPF protection. Wear a hat with a wide brim or special sun-safety attachments. Wear safety glasses with UV protection.

Limit exposure: When possible, avoid outdoor work when UV rays are the most intense, between 10am to 4pm. Avoid working in spaces where reflections from bight surfaces, such as metal or concrete, can increase your sun exposure. Use tents or shelters to create shaded work areas. Take breaks in the shade.

Being sun smart when working outdoors can help workers lessen the risks of developing skin cancer. Monthly skin examinations are also critical for catching skin cancers early, while they are often curable.

Date Posted: 08-01-2018
Tags: occupational cancer, occupational hazards, osha safety topics, osha workplace safety, skin cancer prevention,
Categories: OSHA Safety,