It’s inevitable that your golf maintenance employees will receive sun exposure while at work. Extended exposure to the sun’s harmful rays can be hazardous, so it’s essential that they protect themselves, especially during the days and times when the sun is at its strongest.    

The following are a few safety measures that you can implement to protect your employees while they’re at work.     

Plan ahead 

  • Always check the UV index forecast
  • Plan weekly tasks based on forecast
  • Limit outdoor tasks between 10 am and 2 pm
  • Limit outdoor tasks if the UV index is 3 or above

The most important part of your sun safety program is to reduce the amount of time that employees receive sun exposure. To do that, you need to plan ahead of time. You should get in the habit of checking the UV index forecast – it will tell you how intense the sun’s rays are each day. Knowing how strong the sun is will allow you to plan appropriately.  

The UV index is usually listed as a number. The numbers are grouped into low, medium, and high. Knowing the UV index will allow you to prepare for the level of protection needed, as well as better plan daily tasks, mainly between 10 am and 4 pm, when the sun is at its strongest.  Try to minimize outdoor work during the middle of the day and maximize the time during the early part of the day when UV levels are lowest. If the UV index is 3 or above, you need to protect your skin.   Another easy way to measure the sun’s strength is to look at your shadow. During the early morning or late afternoon, if your shadow is taller than you are, the UV exposure is likely to be lower. Then, around noon, if your shadow is shorter than you are, UV exposure is likely to be higher.  

 Reduce Sun Exposure 

  • Plan outdoor work in the early mornings and afternoons
  • Organize work tasks to limit exposure to the sun
  • Provide shade when possible
  • Encourage employees to take breaks under the shade

  Whenever possible, try to schedule outdoor work for the early mornings and late afternoons, when the sun is less intense.   Even during the morning and afternoon, try to rotate your crew, ensuring that the amount of time that each person is exposed to the sun is minimized.   For stationary work, provide a tent or cover – it should be made of a material that is fire rated and tested for UV protection of 30+. 

Try to make sure that your crew has shade near them to take breaks, and encourage them to do so periodically.     

Provide Protection 

  • Tents
  • Equipment canopies
  • Sun protective clothing
  • UV rated sunglasses
  • Wide-brimmed/floppy hats
  • Sunscreen
  • Water and electrolyte beverages

  As we mentioned earlier, tents are a great way to protect your crew from the sun – mainly if employees can perform the job under the tent. Keep in mind that the tent’s material must be fire rated and tested for UV protection of 30 plus to protect from the sun.  Sun protective clothing can be very useful in protecting from the sun. It’s often quick-drying, sweat-wicking and comfortable – so it’s the perfect type of garment to wear to work. The next best thing after sun protective clothing is dark clothing made out of tight weave fabric. Just like sunscreen, sun-protective clothing has a UPF rating. When selecting your garments, you should look for pieces that have a UPF or ultraviolet protection rating of 30+. 

Sun protective accessories like hats and sunglasses protect your face and eyes from UV rays. A wide-brimmed hat of at least 3 inches will give your crew substantial protection from the sun.   

Educate Employees 

  • Talk to your crew about the dangers of sun exposure
  • Tell them how to protect their skin
  • Encourage your team to wear long pants, sleeves, and thick garments
  • Encourage them to keep sleeves down and collars up
  • Tell them to apply sunscreen 20 minutes before exposure
  • Stress the importance of reapplying sunscreen
  • Encourage employees to check and inspect their skin

You can plan work to reduce exposure and provide protection, but you can’t control what your crew does. The best thing you can do is educate your crew on the dangers of sun exposure, and encourage them to do their best to protect themselves from the sun. Here are a few frightening statistics to discuss:  

Each year there are more new cases of skin cancer than there are of cancers of the breast, prostate, lung, and colon combined.  Over the past three decades, more people have had skin cancer than all other cancers combined.  One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in the course of their lifetime.  If skin cancer develops and is left untreated, it can spread through the lymph nodes, into your immune system, and throughout your body, causing secondary cancers. In the worst cases, skin cancer can be fatal.  Explain that some of the most vulnerable areas on your body are your ears, lips, nose, and neck.   Keep in mind that education is a key component of your sun protection program. There’s only so much protection you can provide – the rest is in each individual’s hands. 

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