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New FDA guidelines for sunscreen and sunscreen labels effective June 18, 2012: What do I need to know?

  1. In order for a sunscreen label to say "broad spectrum" it must be FDA-certified to provide a significant amount of UVA protection.
  2. Sunscreen labels can no longer say "waterproof," "sweatproof," "instant protection," "all day protection," or "sunblock."
  3. Sunscreens can be labeled as water resistant if the label specifies whether the product is water resistant for 40 or 80 minutes.

Why should we be concerned about ultraviolet (UV) radiation?
UV radiation is recognized by Congress, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other agencies as a know human carcinogen. Workplaces have taken steps to minimize exposure to other harmful substances such as asbestos, radon and lead. The sun’s UV radiation presents both a recreational and occupational hazard to staff when they are outdoors at work so steps should be taken to prevent overexposure. Educating staff members about sun safety and creating policy aimed at minimizing exposure to UV radiation may help reduce possible liabilities in the future.

Is it easy to implement sun safety practices once we adopt a sun safety policy?
Yes. It is up to you to determine which sun safety practices to implement within your workplace. It can be as simple as approving a specific hat style for staff and encouraging the use of cover up clothing and hats while staff members are outdoors. For those workplaces that want to do more, there are additional practices that can be implemented such as increasing shade in work areas. For tips on how to implement a variety of sun safety practices, visit Put it into Practice.

How much time is required to implement a sun safety policy?
Implementing a new policy does take time although the exact amount varies depending on the size and structure of the workplace, Sun Safe Colorado provides numerous resources available to aid your workplace with the implementation of a sun safety policy. While it can take time to write, approve and implement a policy, Sun Safe Colorado provides individualized support, and a comprehensive website to help you minimize the overall time commitment necessary for implementing policy.

Will a sun safety program strain our already tight budget?
Many significant steps can be taken without any impact on the budget. It doesn't cost anything to establish a hats, protective clothing and sunscreen policy. Your workplace might start implementing a sun safety policy by simply posting advisories in your workplace about effective sun safety behaviors, and announcing the daily UV index. Over time, staff trainings can be implemented, and landscaping can be enhanced on and off the worksite to create more usable shade for staff. To learn more about simple sun safe changes workplaces can make, visit Prevention Strategies.

How common are sunscreen allergies?
Fortunately, allergic reaction to sunscreen is very uncommon and, if one does occur, it is generally a minor reversible skin rash. Less than 1% of people have some reaction to some ingredients in certain sunscreens. Hypoallergenic and fragrance-free products are good choices especially for people already known to have skin allergies. Before using a sunscreen, perform a test by dabbing a small amount on the back of the hand. If a rash or itching develops, a doctor or pharmacist can help recommend products that might be better for the skin. If your workplace plans to provide sunscreen to employees, send a notice to staff so they know the ingredients and type of sunscreen that will be used.

Based on the ethnicity of the staff within our workplace, is sun safety policy necessary?
Yes. Studies by the American Cancer Society indicate that melanoma is on the rise nationwide. Although the risk is greater for people with light skin, exposure to UV rays is a health risk for everyone.

(2006, March 9). Detailed guide: Skin Cancer - Melanoma. What are the key statistics about melanoma? American Cancer Society

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