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Here Comes the Sun

The HSE advises employers that ultraviolet radiation should be considered an occupational hazard for people who work outdoors.

Who is at risk?

  • People with pale skin are most at risk of skin damage, especially those with fair or red hair, with a lot of freckles or with a family history of skin cancer.
  • People with brown or black skin are at low risk but people of all skin colours can suffer from overheating and dehydration.

Action by Employers

  • Image of the sunSun protection advice should be included in routine health and safety training. Inform workers that a tan is not healthy - it is a sign that skin has already been damaged.
  • Encourage workers to keep covered up during the summer months - especially at lunchtime when the sun is at its hottest. Workers can cover up with a long-sleeved shirt, and a hat with a brim or flap that protects the ears and neck.
  • Encourage workers to use sunscreen of at least sun protection factor 15 on any part of the body they can't cover up, and to apply it as directed on the product. They might prefer to use a spray or an alcohol-based (non-greasy) sunscreen.
  • Encourage workers to take their breaks in the shade, if possible.
  • Consider scheduling work to minimise exposure.
  • Site water points and rest areas in the shade.
  • Encourage workers to drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.
  • Keep workers informed about the dangers of sun exposure.
  • Encourage workers to check their skin regularly for unusual spots or moles that change size, shape or colour and to seek medical advice promptly if they find anything unusual.
  • Consult employees and their safety representatives when introducing any new sun safety initiatives.

Business benefits

  • Fewer absence days through sunburn.
  • A healthier and better-informed workforce.
  • Reduced risk to employees of skin cancer from long-term sun exposure.

For further information visit the |HSE website.

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