Line Contractor

How to Prevent Sunburn

Published On
Jun 15, 2022


Upon completion of this safety talk, participants will understand the importance of preventing sunburn and methods to do so.

Since sun exposure is known to be the No. 1 cause of all skin cancer types, the best way to prevent skin cancer is to stay out of the sun. However, those working in the construction industry spend much of their time outside. The Skin Cancer Foundation offers some common-sense tips to help prevent or decrease a construction worker’s risk of developing skin cancer.

Recent studies have shown that even a slight burn greatly increases the chance of developing skin cancer later in life. Use the following protection measures to prevent sunburn.

Seek shade whenever possible, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Though this window includes the majority of the work day, it is good to remember to take breaks from full sun whenever possible.

Avoid tanning booths. Some people tan early in the season to develop a “base.” We now know that this does not help prevent the development of skin cancer, and can actually increase a person’s chance of getting it.

Use sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 every day. This simple step greatly minimizes skin damage from the sun.

Slather it on! Apply 1 ounce—a full shot glass—of SPF 15 or greater sunscreen to the entire body 30 minutes before going outside. Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours.

Cover up with clothing to keep the sun off the skin. This should include a broad-brimmed hat to protect the entire face and neck. Baseball caps and brimmed hardhats are better than nothing, but they only protect the forehead and front of the face. Of course, you will be wearing your hard hat whenever there is a risk of overhead hazards or contact with live electrical lines or equipment on the job.

Examine your skin from top to bottom EVERY month. A thorough self-exam will help to spot any abnormality or change in the skin from one month to the next. This will help with an early diagnosis, which can increase the likelihood of a full cure.

See your doctor or dermatologist every year for a full-body skin exam.

If you cannot follow these prevention tips or they are not enough to keep from getting burned, what then?

In case of a burn, minimize the pain. Since sunburn actually cooks the proteins in the skin, start by cooling it with a cloth soaked in cold, skim milk. This will counter the initial heat. The milk protein also creates a film that helps ease long-term pain.

For severe sunburns, the skin will heal by peeling. If this happens, slather on a nongreasy moisturizer to soothe the area. Most sunburns do not require a doctor’s attention. However,  remember that your body has been burned and as a result is probably dehydrated. Increasing the amount of liquids you drink will help you recover faster.

Discussion Questions


  • How much sunscreen should be applied and how often?
  • What is the best SPF to use for a day on the job site?
  • Why would a broad-brimmed hat be a better choice for sun protection than a baseball cap?
  • Explain why using a tanning booth is a bad idea.

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