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Keeping outdoor workers safe in the sun

If you have employees who work outside, it’s important to manage how much sunlight they are exposed to. Here are some tips to help your people reduce their risk of skin cancer while they work outside.

Get SunSmart, not sunburnt

People who work outside are exposed to up to 10 times the ultraviolet (UV) radiation of those who work inside, increasing their chances of developing skin cancer. That’s why it’s important for your outdoor staff to take all possible steps to protect themselves.

SunSmart: Facts and information(external link) — Wellplace

Having a workplace SunSmart policy is a good place to start. A policy allows you to set out how you will protect workers from the sun, and lets employees know what’s expected of them.

Our Workplace Policy Builder can help you create a SunSmart policy for your business.

Workplace Policy Builder: SunSmart(external link)

Steps to keep your workers safe

Here are some ways to reduce your workers’ exposure to UV radiation, as well as heat exhaustion.

Limit time working outside

If possible, move tasks inside or adjust work times to when UV levels are lower, such as early morning or late afternoon.

Provide shade

Allow workers to do tasks under trees or other shaded areas, or put up temporary shade structures like an outdoor umbrella. Ensure break areas are shaded.

SunSmart workplaces(external link) — SunSmart

Provide SunSmart personal protective equipment (PPE)

Depending on the requirements of your industry, PPE could include:

  • a long-sleeved, collared shirt, ideally in a tight-weaved, dark fabric
  • a wide-brimmed hat or helmet with a peak and neck guard (legionnaire’s flap)
  • close-fitting, wrap-around sunglasses that meet safety and sun protection standards (check the label).

Provide sunscreen

Ensure easy access to a water-resistant, broad-spectrum sunscreen of at least SPF50. Ensure sunscreen is within its expiry date and not stored anywhere too hot, such as a vehicle’s glovebox.

Use sunscreen(external link) — SunSmart

Remind employees to be SunSmart

Talk about being safe in the sun at the start of each day. Wellplace have prompt cards to help guide the discussion.

Managing and monitoring workplace UV exposure(external link) — Wellplace

Put up posters about being SunSmart

There are many myths about being safe in the sun, eg even when it’s cloudy, it’s important to stay protected from the sun. Wellplace has messages you can share and posters you can put up in your workplace to bust those myths.

Encourage skin checks for early detection of skin cancers

Most skin cancers can be treated if found early, so encourage your employees to have a GP or skin specialist check their skin, together with regular self-checks.

Skin cancer in New Zealand(external link) — Wellplace

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