BUNZL Cleaning & Hygiene Supplies Blog

How to Protect Yourself from UV Rays

With British summers being as they are, you may scoff at the thought of having to take extra care to protect yourself from the effects of the sun’s UV rays.

UV Rays

But even when it’s cloudy, UV rays can be harmful to your skin, so it’s very important to take steps to protect yourself if you are going to be outdoors for an extended period of time.

The common misconception that skin protection from UV rays is only required when it’s sunny is believed to be why the UK has such a high skin cancer death toll – here it claims the lives of six people per day, a higher death toll than in Australia, and where the climate is naturally more sunny all year-round, and more than 100,000 new cases are diagnosed each year. But UV rays (or ‘ultraviolet’ rays) are extremely powerful, and while clouds do block the sunlight they don’t block all of its UV rays, and the lighter the clouds, are the fewer UV rays that will be blocked.

Recognising the lack of education around the UV rays and their harmful effects, leading skin care company Deb Group launched their ‘Be UV Aware – Sun Safety Saves Lives’ campaign to proactively encourage people who spend a large proportion of their day outside to take the proper steps to protect their skin.

They have identified that outdoor workers such as builders, landscapers and roofers are at a high level of risk, but also schoolchildren who spend their break times or lunch times outside – in fact, they found that 40% of children have come home from school with sunburn, so Deb Group are urging their supervisors to follow their ‘duty of care’ to protect them.

Understanding UV rays and their effect

UV rays are not inherently harmful. They are in fact very necessary to us in a certain amount as they are the best natural source of vitamin D, but when we are exposed to too much UV radiation, they can cause health problems both in the short and long term.

There are two different types of UV rays: UVA rays, which penetrate the deep dermis layer of the skin and over the long term, can cause premature skin aging, wrinkling and even suppression of the immune system; and UVB rays, which can cause sunburn in the short term but over a prolonged period of time, play a key role in the potential development of skin cancer.

UVA rays are always present during daylight hours, and can penetrate glass and clouds. UVB rays are less prevalent than UVA rays, but they vary in intensity by season, location and time of day – in the UK, they are at their highest levels between the hours of 10am to 4pm, April to October. It’s important to know the day’s UV levels so that you can determine the level of skin protection that you will need.

UVA and UVB rays have different wavelengths on the electromagnetic spectrum, which gives them different effects on our skin. That’s why when choosing your skin sun protection, you should always look for ‘broad spectrum protection’ to ensure that you’re protected from the damaging effects of both types of UV rays.

Protecting yourself properly from UV rays

According to Deb Group’s research, 90% of all skin cancer cases could be prevented with controlled exposure to UV rays. It’s the most common type of cancer in the UK, and worryingly few people know how to properly take action to protect their skin.

Paul Jakeway, Marketing Director at Deb UK explained:

“There is uncertainty about what sun cream factor is appropriate. The minimum sun cream protection you should use is SPF30, and it’s also important to use a sun cream with a broad spectrum UVA protection. Reapplication is crucial too; it is recommended that cream is reapplied liberally every two to three hours.

“We have created a range of UV Protection creams to help prevent skin damage. In addition, we are supporting national charity Skcin to raise awareness and make everybody active in protecting themselves from the sun, including their Sun Safe schools programme.”

The Deb Stoko Sun Protect range offers the ideal level of protection for anyone spending time outside, especially in the warmer months, as it protects against the harmful effects of both UVA and UVB rays as well as the artificial UVC rays created by welding and certain other industrial processes. It has UVA 5 star ‘ultra’ rated protection, and has also been designed to withstand heavy perspiration or water immersion, and will also not affect your worker’s ability to safely handle tools.

Available in tubes of cream as well as cartridge dispensers, it’s easy to provide the protection that your staff need when working outside in the sun, and encourage it to become part of their daily routine. Be sure to place your skin protection products in a place where you and your staff are likely to see and use them – such as by doorways, in the break room, or in washrooms or changing rooms.

How do you encourage your staff to take action to protect their skin when working outside? Could you do more, or are you already seeing success? We’d love to hear more, so leave us a comment with your thoughts below.

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