A comprehensive sun protection program includes development and implementation of the following key elements to minimize the risk of sun-related health effects.
1. Risk Assessment
Each division, in consultation with their business unit health and safety consultants, will need to conduct a risk assessment to determine whether there is a potential for worker exposure to solar UV radiation, and the extent of exposure anticipated. The risk assessment is the initial step in the development of a sun protection program, and will provide information to assess the appropriate level of protection needed.
Prolonged sun exposure is defined as solar UV radiation exposure that may result in a skin burn due to either the frequency and/or duration of an exposure, as determined by the UV index chart and the risk assessment. Reviewing job titles or classifications does not provide sufficient information to determine whether a group of workers is at risk of prolonged sun exposure. Instead, the UV index chart (See Appendix A: UV Index) should be used to determine whether a work group is at risk, taking into account the frequency and/or duration of the occupational exposure.
Once this determination is made, the extent of control measures should take into account, but not be limited to, consideration of the following criteria:
- Nature and location of the work (continuous vs. intermittent, shaded vs. unshaded areas)
- Routine and non-routine work activities
- Length of time spent outdoors
- Frequency of sun exposure (number of times per day, week, month)
- Time of day spent outdoors (peak UV periods vs. early morning or evening)
- Environmental conditions (UV index/intensity of sun exposure)
- Personal risk factors
2. Control Measures
It is advised that engineering controls always be considered first, followed by administrative and personal protective controls. In addition, a combination of several types of controls may be needed to adequately mitigate the hazard.
Engineering controls are used to reduce employee exposure in the workplace by either removing or isolating the hazard, or isolating the employee from the exposure. Types of engineering controls that reduce sun exposure include:
- Erecting canopies and shelters
Administrative controls involve the development of policies and procedures to minimize the risk of a hazard in the workplace. The following should be used to reduce sun exposure, especially during peak periods between 11 AM and 4 PM:
- Where possible, schedule outside work in the early morning or late afternoon and schedule alternative tasks when solar UV radiation is most intense
- Seek either natural or artificial shade especially during scheduled breaks and meal times
- Move outdoor tasks indoors to a cooler environment, if feasible
- Take frequent rest breaks to allow employees to move out of the sun
Inform employees of environmental conditions where solar UV radiation exposure can occur, including:
- The UV index, which gives the expected noon-time UV radiation reaching the earth's surface on a scale of 1-10. The higher the index number the greater the potential for exposure to solar UV radiation. This can help to determine when to avoid sun exposure and take extra protective measures (For more information refer to Appendix A: UV Index).
- Indirect, reflected rays from water, white sand or concrete, snow, and ice. These surfaces can reflect from around 10 to 80 percent of the UV rays.
- Cloudy, hazy and foggy days where up to 80% of solar UV radiation can still pass through.
Sun Awareness - Education & Training
Training and information material should be delivered to educate all managers, supervisors, and employees who work in divisions where there is a potential for prolonged sun exposure. The training module will include all of the following elements:
- Properties of solar UV radiation
- Health effects associated with UV radiation exposure
- Awareness of risk factors for sun-related injuries, environmental conditions
- Responsibilities of divisions, supervisors, and employees with regards to sun protection programs
- Prevention strategies including engineering and administrative controls as well as personal protection measures
- First aid and reporting of sun-related injuries
Public Health has developed training materials and is prepared to assist or provide training/information sessions for City of Toronto employees. In addition, Occupational Health and Safety staff is available to assist or deliver training/information sessions, as needed.
Personal Protective Controls
Based on the divisional risk assessment, an appropriate level of personal protection will be provided to protect outside workers against exposure to solar UV radiation, either when working in direct sunlight or when UV exposure from the sun is the most intense.
- Head protection, preferably with a wide brim (8 cm or greater) or back flaps, should be worn to shade the face, ears and neck. The type of head protection worn will depend on the nature of the work activity (i.e. if a hardhat is needed.
- Clothing that does not transmit visible light should cover as much of the body as practical, and where uniforms are provided sun safety should be considered. The protection ability of the fabric is strongly related to the tightness of the weave.
- Safety glasses, when required, should block out 99-100% of UV-A & UV-B radiation.
- Broad-spectrum sunscreen with a SPF of 30 or greater and that filters out both UV-A & UV-B rays should be applied on all exposed skin. If certain individuals are not able to wear the sunscreen provided due to allergic reactions, alternate protective measures will be provided (For more information refer to Appendix B: Sunscreen Fact Sheet).
- Apply lip protection with a SPF of 30 or higher
The use of the above personal protection measures should not lead to additional safety risks of wearing head protection with inadequate impact protection, UV-blocking safety glasses that affect vision, or heat stress from wearing heavy clothing.
Purchase of Control Measures
The requirements of the City of Toronto's Health and Safety Policy on Incorporating Occupational Health, Safety and Ergonomics Principles into the Purchasing Process should be followed when sending out tender documents. Collaboration between divisions, Purchasing Materials Management Division, health and safety staff and the end-users in the tender and selection process, will ensure appropriate protective measures are purchased and a high level of user compliance.
3. Regular Skin Examinations
Outside workers should perform monthly self-exams to look for and track any changes in moles or other spots on the skin. Signs of skin cancer include changes in the surface of a mole (scales, bleeding, or increases in elevation or thickness) as well as a change in the sensation in the area of the mole (itchiness, tenderness, pain). Moles should be examined for asymmetry, border irregularity, pigmentation, and increases in size. Attention should also be paid to any sores, wounds, growths, or patches of skin that scale or will not heal. Early detection of skin cancer is important. Therefore medical attention should be sought if any of the above are detected or if other noticeable skin changes occur.
4. First Aid Procedures & Reporting of Sun-Related Injuries
First aid procedures for sunburns:
- Immediately cool the burned area
- Immerse burned part in cool water or if immersion is not possible pour cool water over the area or cover with a cool cloth until the pain is relieved
- Remove jewelry and loosen tight clothing
- Protect burned areas from the sun
- Do not break blisters
- When the pain has lessened, cover the burned areas loosely with a clean preferably sterile material
- Secure the dressing, ensure the tape does not touch the burned area
- Seek medical attention if necessary
Sunburns or other sun-related injuries that result from workplace exposure to solar UV radiation should be documented and reported using the Supervisor's Report of Injury/Incident.