Sun safety at work
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Be SunSmart every day
Employers can create a sun safe environment for their workers by controlling exposure to UV radiation with a comprehensive sun safety policy. Ways of controlling exposure include:
- provide shaded areas or temporary shade
- encourage workers to move jobs to shaded areas
- apply window tinting to work vehicles
- modify reflective surfaces
- identify and minimise contact with photosensitising substances
- provide indoor areas or shaded outdoor areas for rest and meal breaks
- schedule outdoor work tasks to occur when levels of solar UV radiation are less intense e.g. earlier in the morning or later in the afternoon
- schedule indoor and shaded work tasks to occur when levels of solar UV radiation are strongest e.g. in the middle of the day
- encourage workers to rotate between indoor, shaded and outdoor tasks to avoid exposure to solar UV radiation for long periods of time
- provide daily access to the SunSmart UV Alert or UV index
- provide personal protective equipment (PPE) and ensure it is used effectively including:
- sun protective work clothing (UPF 45+) like long-sleeved shirts with a collar and long trousers
- sun protective hats which cover the face, head, ears and neck
- sunglasses meeting Australian standards
- broad-spectrum, SPF30+ water resistant sunscreen.
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 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 a fabric with a high ultraviolet protection factor (UPF). The UPF rating is outlined in the Australian/New Zealand Standard 4399:2017. 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.
Check the UV protection rating. Some sunglasses can be labelled with an eye protection factor (EPF). This is a scale from 1 to 10 which indicates how well a lens blocks UV radiation. If a lens has been tested, it should have an EPF on the label. Sunglasses with an EPF of 9 and 10 provide the best protection.
Safety glasses can provide good UV protection but require tinting for use outdoors. Polarised lenses reduce glare, which is reflected visible light and makes it easier to see on a sunny day – however, this doesn’t increase the EPF.
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)
- check the use by date.
Sunscreen should be kept in easily accessible places such as tearooms and site offices, and stocks replaced regularly to avoid deterioration. Sunscreen can go off, so always check the expiry date and store in a cool place preferably below 30 degrees Celsius. Price is not always an indication of quality. Any broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF30+ rating, will if applied correctly, provides good sun protection.
- 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.
The links below provide the information you can use to support your sun protection strategies. You can hold a toolbox meeting, create your own fact sheet or newsletter articles using these resources.
- sun safety toolbox talk PowerPoint presentation(PPT, 973 KB)
- toolbox meeting record (DOCX, 22.36 KB)
- skin cancer and outdoor work: A guide for employers
- skin cancer and the sun – Summary of information and links to resources
- Cancer Council Queensland QUEST workplace resources
- sun protection in the workplace information and resources
- check your local UV index
- downloading the SunSmart app
- SunSmart resources: Skin check flyer
- Cancer Council Queensland sun protection facts
- Last updated
- 17 January 2019