LIUNA Health & Safety Launches Expanded Sun Sense Campaign

By Randy Palladino;

For over 17 years, the Laborers’ Health & Safety Fund of North America has run an annual Sun Sense campaign to raise awareness about the dangers of skin cancer. According to the American & Canadian Cancer Societies, nearly 3 million people in North America are diagnosed with skin cancer each year. Overexposure to the sun is the most common cause of skin cancer. LHSFNA through Laborers’ Local 91 distributes sunscreen, lip balm, and neck flaps to protect laborers from the exposure to sunlight. Laborers or anyone spending time outdoors should take the necessary precautions to minimize their skin exposure to harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays.

Of course, being outdoors for many is unavoidable so when you go outside, take these precautions:

  • Most importantly, always wear sunscreen. Men, women and children should put it on every day and reapply throughout the day. Using an SPF (sun protection factor) of 30 is recommended. Any lower SPF will not protect your skin from harmful UV rays and any higher SPF gives a false sense of protection.
  • Try to avoid sun in the middle of the day, from about 10 am to 3 pm. The ultraviolet rays, which cause sunburn, are strongest during this time. When you do go outdoors, especially for long periods in the middle of the day, wear protective clothing. Wear sunglasses that filter UV light.

This year in addition to the precautions of sun exposure, we are focusing on preventing heat stress. Working long days under the hot sun, sometimes in confined spaces or wearing personal protective equipment (PPE), puts Laborers at high risk for heat stress. Heat stress occurs when high heat or exertion levels do not allow the body to cool off fast enough. It leads to hydration, muscle cramps, heat exhaustion and in extreme cases, heat stroke. New information on preventing heat stress and ways to stay cool at work will be available at the training facility this summer.

The Laborers – Employers Cooperation and Training Trust encourages all members and employers to incorporate sun protection measures into their daily routine just as they would any other safety behavior. Regular and liberal application of sunscreen and minimizing midday and high sun exposures throughout the year will usually prevent skin cancer. Laborers need to use lip balm, neck flaps, cooling clothes and sun block towelettes available free at the Union hall to protect against damaging exposure to sunlight. The Laborers encourage everyone to take appropriate steps to protect themselves from harmful sun exposure.


  1. Why do we make the sun public enemy #1? Please realize that recent research demonstrates that sun deprivation leads to 336,000 deaths per year in the U.S. Sun is vital to human health, and too much “protection” can kill us. Most of the population is working indoors, and sun exposure has decreased by about 90% since 1935. Did you know that during that time of profound decrease in sun exposure melanoma risk has increased by 3,000%? Does it intrigue you to learn that each year, as we use more sunscreen and avoid more sun, the risk of melanoma increases? The latest research also shows that vitamin D deficiency among children is now at alarming levels as they are “protected” from the sun’s rays by sunscreens. The reason? Sunscreen can reduce the production of vitamin D by the skin by up to 99%. Sun exposure is essential for human health. Here are a few more facts about the vital importance of the sun:

    •A 20-year Swedish study shows that sun avoidance is as bad for the health as cigarette smoking.
    •A Spanish study shows that women who seek the sun have one-eleventh the hip-fracture risk as those who avoid sun.
    •Men who work outdoors have half the risk of melanoma as those who work indoors.
    •Women who avoid the sun have 10-times the risk of breast cancer as those who embrace the sun.
    •Women who sunbathe regularly have half the risk of death during a 20-year period compared to those who stay indoors.
    •Sun exposure increases nitric oxide production, which leads to a decrease in heart attack risk.
    •Vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin, is essential to human survival, and sun exposure is the only natural way to obtain it. Sunbathing can produce up to 20,000 units of vitamin D in 20 minutes of whole-body exposure.
    •Sun exposure dramatically improves mood through the production of serotonin and endorphin.
    • Sun exposure increases the production of BDNF, which is vital to human health.

    For references and articles:

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