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Sunscreen As Personal Protective Equipment?

by kelly / September, 21 2022 01:30

Photo of construction workers working outside

Should sunscreen be considered personal protective equipment (PPE) – like gloves, masks, or goggles? Well there is a push by a group in Congress to add sunscreen to the list of critical PPE for outdoor workers. Wow, that would be something!

The ask is being driven by DSM - a leading personal care ingredient manufacturer - along with the support of 11 members of Congress. They are asking the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to review the existing standards exempting employer coverage of sunscreen for outdoor workers and to reconsider sunscreen as PPE. OSHA is a government organization within the US Department of Labor that ensures safe and healthful working conditions by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education, and assistance.

According to Hugh C. Welsh, president and general counsel, DSM North America:

“Whether they are construction workers, agricultural and infrastructure laborers, mail carriers or lifeguards, our roughly 32 million outdoor workers across the United States endure an almost daily brutal beating from cancer-causing ultraviolet radiation. These Americans face a difficult choice every day: risk their health due to overexposure to ultraviolet radiation or risk their jobs by staying home”

And according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) only 15-24% of construction workers report regular use of sunscreen. Given how much they are outside, that doesn’t seem like a lot. At least I don’t think it does?

As a result DSM and these members of Congress believe it’s time to revisit the treatment of sunscreen as critical PPE to protect the lives of all these workers from sun damage, sunburn, and, most importantly, skin cancer (the most common form of cancer today).

We’re excited and hopeful to see how all this works out and if sunscreen is added to the PPE list.

Here are the 11 Congress members supporting this cause: Carolyn B. Maloney; Eleanor Holmes Norton; Emanuel Cleaver, II; Jared Huffman; John Garamendi; Jim Cooper; James P. McGovern; Salud Carbajal; Jesus G. “Chuy” Garcia; Adam B. Schiff; and Marcy Kaptur.

To stay updated on all skin cancer and sunscreen news check out our Skin Cancer and Suncare Smarts series.

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