Employers’ Guide to Sun Safety

If you are an employer and you have staff who work outside, your responsibilities include an obligation to ensure that your workers stay safe in different environments and weather conditions. Sun safety is a part of this, and means different factors to consider.

What Are the Risks to Working in the Sun?

There are plenty of risks to working in the sun, but these can often pass under the radar as we don’t often think about them in day-to-day life unless conditions are extreme. Sun safety covers, among other things, exposure to ultraviolet radiation, which can cause skin damage, including:

  • Sunburn
  • Blistering
  • Skin aging
  • Long-term effects, including various skin cancers.

People with pale skin are most at risk of skin damage, especially those with fair or red hair. However, it is imperative to recognise that over-exposure to the sun can damage all skin types, including ‘tanned’, brown and black skins.

Of course, it isn’t just skin damage that can occur as a result of over-exposure to the sun. You must also take into account the dangers from heat, and in extreme circumstances, humidity. Extremely high temperatures and humidity can pose other health risks while working outside, including:

  • Heat exhaustion
  • Hyperthermia
  • Dehydration
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Loss of consciousness.

In extreme cases, some of these conditions can result in death.

What Should Employers do to Help with Sun Safety?

Employers must take reasonable steps to ensure the safety of those workers who will be exposed to risks during their working time, including in the sun.

Some recommended precautions may be beyond the reasonable control of the employer; such as the application and re-application of protective sunscreen, where a worker may choose not to use the protection. However, an employer should still encourage such steps, and educate the workers on the reasons behind the recommendation and what the possible effects may be, both personally and professionally.

Employer Checklist for Sun Safety

To help you get started with sun safety and what you can do to protect your workers and business, follow as many of these steps:

  • If possible, schedule outside work to take place during cooler periods.
  • Include advice regarding Sun Safety in routine Health and Safety training. Inform workers that even mild reddening or a ‘light tan’ is evidence of skin damage.
  • Encourage workers to stay covered up in the sun.
    • Close-woven clothing provides a good barrier to the sun’s harmful rays, but make sure the clothing does not exacerbate heat issues.
    • Light, natural fabrics such as cotton and thin denim offer good protection against the sun without overheating the wearer.
    • You may want to consider implementing a ‘keep your top on’ policy, as recommended by the HSE; we can help with this.
  • If outside work cannot be avoided during hot and sunny periods, ensure that your workers have been encouraged to wear clothing that gives good coverage, a sunscreen with an SPF (Sun Protection Factor) of at least 15, and a hat with a brim or flap to protect the head, ears and neck.
  • Ensure that workers take regular rest breaks in the shade.
  • Provide an ample supply of drinking water for workers to access as and when they need it. Encourage regular hydration.
  • Inform your workers about the dangers of sun and heat exposure, and encourage them to check their skin regularly for unusual or changing spots or moles.

For further health and safety consulting information or to discuss the specific implications of sun safety for your business, please contact us on 01270 440 341 or email the team.

You can download a PDF version of this fact sheet here.

Did you find this fact sheet useful? If so, please let us know and share it on our social media platforms. Find us here on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Alternatively, send a brief email with your comments to: info@rhinosafety.co.uk

Share This