By: Valerie Lindquist, Safety Officer, Package Steel Systems, Inc.
Spring has finally sprung in New England. With the warm weather and sunny days more and more people are spending time outdoors; this includes employees. Most people know that sunscreen should be used if working outdoors for any period of time. This will protect from harmful UV rays, lower skin cancer risks, prevent premature aging, and enhances the health of skin just to name a few benefits. If employees have jobs that take them outdoors precautions should be taken to ensure that sunscreen is being used and used properly. Along with sunscreen, employees should also be wearing insect repellent.
Mosquitoes have been found to carry diseases since the early 1900s. They have been known to carry malaria, yellow fever, Chikungunya, Dog Heartworm, Dendue, Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), West Nile virus, and many others. The Zika virus is one of the newest mosquito-borne diseases making headlines. There have been 591 confirmed cases in the United States according to the CDC and of those cases 30 were confirmed in New England.
Besides the Zika virus, Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) and the West Nile virus are prevalent diseases making headlines in New England. A study over a ten year period by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health showed that there have been 78 confirmed cases of the West Nile virus and 20 confirmed cases of Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE). Some of these cases might have been preventable if the right precautions were taken.
According to the CDC, the best way to prevent mosquito-borne diseases is to take the following steps:
- Wear protective clothing when outdoors and weather permitting
- Install and repair screens
- Keep mosquitos from laying eggs, clean up any sitting water in buckets, tires, barrels, etc.
- Use repellent (Most important and easiest step)
Part of a Safety professional’s job is to safeguard workplaces and keep employees safe. One way this Spring and Summer to help employees stay safe is to share with them of the importance of sunscreen and insect repellent.
A study was conducted in 2015 that tested eight commercial mosquito repellent, two fragrances and a vitamin B patch by releasing mosquitoes into a sealed chamber with a treated hand. The study found that after four hours, the most effective products contained DEET and one “natural” DEET-free spray (Brink, 2016)
Click graphic for larger size
As the weather is getting nicer and employees are outdoors more; please remember to always ensure and inquire if sunscreen is being wore and wear insect repellent and sunscreen.