Written Policy Predicts Worksite Sun Safety Training and Actions in State Departments of Transportation

Written Policy Predicts Worksite Sun Safety Training and Actions in State Departments of Transportation

Dr. David Buller, Klein Buendel Director of Research, presented a poster on workplace sun safety policies at the virtual 13th Annual Conference on the Science of Dissemination and Implementation in Health December 15-17, 2020.  

The U.S. Surgeon General and Community Guide recommend implementation of interventions to protect outdoor workers from solar ultraviolet radiation (UV) exposure to prevent skin cancer. For the research presented in this poster, written policies at state Departments of Transportation (DOTs) were examined and analyses tested the hypothesis that presence and strength of sun safety policy would be associated with greater implementation of workplace sun safety actions. 

Written policies from 21 U.S. state DOTs were coded for 15 sun safety components including engineering controls (physical work environment), administrative controls (workplace procedures), and personal protection practices (workers’ sun safety). Managers supervising outdoor workers in 138 regional DOT districts reported on workplace sun safety training and actions (monitoring UV Index to adjust work schedules, employees wearing UV-protective clothing, hats, eyewear, and sunscreen, sun safety messages to employees, employer provides sun protection resources and temporary/permanent shade, employer requests contractor staff comply with policy, employer encourages employees to regularly check skin, and employer conducts a risk assessment). 

Twenty state DOTs had a policy with at least one sun protection component (e.g., sunscreen, clothing, hat, shade provision, adjusting schedules), but almost none included training of employees, managers or supervisors. Many policies were also not explicitly intended for sun safety, except for sunscreen. Though not written, some reported unwritten standard operating, administrative, or training procedures on sun protection. Sun safety training and actions were predicted by a written sun safety policy and unwritten procedure, managers’ behaviors, job responsibilities, and characteristics. 

Policies are essential for implementation and maintenance of employee sun safety. While many state DOTs have policies, they could be improved by explicitly referencing sun safety. Also, training should be added to policy to create collective commitment among managers to support policy implementation and improve employees’ sun safety skills on the job. 

This research is funded by a grant from the National Cancer Institute (CA134705; Dr. David Buller, Principal Investigator). Additional poster coauthors included Dr. Barbara Walkosz, Mary Buller, Rachel Eye, Andrew Grayson, Alishia Kinsey, Xia Liu, and Savanna Olivas from Klein Buendel. 

Listen to the poster presentation.

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