How to Stay Safe From the Sun During Summer Construction

For construction workers, summertime means long working hours spent in the sun. Too much exposure to the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays can be harmful, increasing your risk of sun poisoning, heatstroke and skin cancer. 

There are several ways for construction workers to avoid sunburn and other issues caused by UV radiation. Follow these tips for construction sun protection. 

1. Wear Proper Clothing

One of the best ways to prevent sun damage is to cover your skin with clothing. Different materials, colors and weave patterns offer various levels of coverage. Typically, pants and long-sleeved shirts made from closely knit materials in dark colors provide the most UV protection. Contrary to conventional wisdom, pale fabrics are not ideal for reflecting UV rays.

Some clothing is treated with special dyes or chemicals to block UV radiation. These clothes are usually lightweight and often have a UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) label. 

Wide-brimmed hats also help keep the sun off your face, ears and neck. If you wear a hard hat for most of your workday, you can use accessories under or over it for additional skin coverage. 

The sun can also damage your eyes. Keep them safe by wearing comfortably fitted sunglasses or safety glasses that offer UVA and UVB protection. 

2. Use Sunscreen

Sunscreen is another vital form of skin protection for construction workers. Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen with UVA and UVB protection and a high SPF (sun protection factor). 

The higher the SPF, the better the protection. For example, a sunscreen with SPF 30 provides protection that lasts 30 times longer than unprotected skin. If your unprotected skin starts to burn after 10 minutes, using sunscreen with SPF 30 will protect you for approximately 300 minutes. SPF also determines how much UVB is blocked. Sunscreen with SPF 30 blocks 97% of UVB rays.

To prevent your sunscreen from coming off when you sweat, choose a water-resistant product. Keep in mind that sunscreen also needs time to absorb into your skin, so you should allow at least 20 minutes after application before going outdoors. As a rule of thumb, reapply your sunscreen every two hours or more frequently on days with a high UV index.

3. Find Shade

If possible, find a shady or indoor spot for periodic cover from the sun. Taking shade respites between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. is essential, as the sun's UV radiation is strongest during this period. 

4. Stay Hydrated

Your body regulates temperature by sweating. If you sweat a lot on the job during the summer, you know your internal cooling system is working properly. Still, you need to replenish those liquids to avoid becoming dehydrated. Drinking plenty of water and beverages with electrolytes keeps you properly hydrated and helps cool you down. 

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