Sun safety for outdoor workers

Cancer Council research shows some Australian workplaces are failing to protect workers from harmful UV, with around one in two workers who spend time outside missing out on sun protection.

As Queensland heads into the hotter months of the year, employers and workers should take care to be sun smart.

WorkCover Queensland Industry Manager Melissa Steadman says people working outdoors need to ensure they're wearing suitable protective gear.

"It's crucial for people working outdoors to wear long sleeves and trousers, a wide brim hat, sunglasses and wear and reapply sunscreen regularly," Melissa said.

"Employers should ensure their workers follow proper safety procedures to prevent sun-related illnesses.”

As an employer, you can help your workers stay safe by:

  • reducing the amount of time employees spend in the sun
  • providing sunscreen and other protective gear, and ensuring workers wear it properly
  • providing a shade cloth or safe shelter
  • providing drinking water
  • allowing workers to take regular breaks or rotate with other workers where possible
  • providing training on being sun smart.

Workplace Health and Safety Queensland's Managing the work environment and facilities code of practice provides guidance for managing the risks associated with outdoor work.

Factors that may contribute to heat-related problems at work include:

  • exposure to direct sunlight, especially during the hottest part of the day
  • exposure to reflected heat from construction materials, polished aluminium and glass
  • carrying out strenuous tasks or work for sustained long periods
  • exposure to additional heat from machinery
  • working in the typically hotter, northern parts of Queensland
  • inadequate cooling off or rest periods and insufficient water consumption
  • climatic conditions (low air movement, high humidity, high temperature)
  • inappropriate clothing
  • those that may cause dehydration such as poor diet, vomiting, diarrhoea or alcohol and caffeine consumption
  • individual medical conditions such as heart problems, diabetes and hypertension
  • individual medication that may affect the body's temperature regulation
  • increasing age, poor general physical fitness and obesity.

For more information on protecting your workers from solar injuries, visit the sun safety and heat stress page.

Cancer Council Queensland also has information on sun protection, including a SunSmart app which gives you a free daily UV alert. They have also released the QUEST Workplace Kit that you can use to find new ideas to support the health and wellbeing of your workers, including sun safety.

Last updated
18 September 2017