Sun safety

Employers can create a sun safe environment for their workers by controlling exposure to UV radiation through the implementation of a comprehensive sun safety policy. Ways of controlling exposure include:

  • increasing amount of shade available
  • reorganising work schedules where possible so that outdoor tasks are done before 10 am and after 3 pm
  • rotating tasks that involve direct sun exposure
  • training and educating staff
  • providing and ensuring workers use the appropriate personal protective equipment including appropriate protective hats, clothing (shirts with longer sleeves, collars, close weave and darker colours), sunglasses and SPF 30+ water-resistant broad-spectrum sunscreen
  • ensuring workers drink plenty of cool water.

Personal protection

Avoiding overexposure to ultraviolet radiation (UVR) is the best way to prevent skin cancer. Follow these simple steps:

  • minimise time in the sun between 10 am and 3 pm
  • slip on clothing
  • slop on SPF 30+ sunscreen
  • slap on a hat
  • seek shade
  • slide on sunglasses.

Slip on clothing

Clothing features that provide constant protection from UVR (sunscreen will wear off) include:

  • dark coloured fabrics such as greens, blues and reds that inhibit UV light penetration
  • close weave fabrics provide the best form of sun protection, as they block out most of the UV radiation
  • long sleeves, a collar and long loose trousers will increase the sun protection of clothing.

Clothing UPF rating

Choose fabric with a high ultraviolet protection factor (UPF). The UPF rating is outlined in the Australian/New Zealand Standard 4399:1996. A fabric's UPF rating is based on how much UVR is transmitted through the fabric e.g. 45+ is excellent protection.

Slap on a hat

  • a hat with a broad brim (10-12 cm) or a flap at the back to shade both the face and back of the neck and a close weave
  • a hardhat with a flap and/or brim added
  • avoid a hat lined with white fabric as it will reflect UVR.

Slide on sunglasses

A wrap around style conforming to AS/NZS 1067:2003 is best as it will reduce UVR entering the eye from the side of the face.

Sunscreen

Sunscreen is recommended as the last line of defence in addition to shade, clothing, hats and sunglasses.

When choosing a sunscreen look for the following:

  • sun protection factor (SPF) of 30+
  • broad-spectrum (protects against UVA and UVB)
  • water-resistant
  • check the use by date.

Tips for the use of sunscreen

  • apply liberally to clean, dry skin at least 20 minutes before going outside, about a teaspoon per limb and half a teaspoon to the face and neck
  • reapply sunscreen at least every two hours
  • provide an adequate supply of sunscreen and zinc cream at the workplace at all times
  • select and apply zinc cream for lips, ears and nose for extra protection
  • select a gel-based or alcohol-based sunscreen when handling tools
  • use a clear lip balm that contains sunscreen, and apply it regularly.
Last updated
22 February 2017