Sun Protection at Work

Sun protection is an important Occupational Health and Safety issue. While employees need to protect themselves from sun exposure, employers have an equal responsibility to protect the health and safety of their staff whenever assigning work outdoors.

Outdoor workers

Working outdoors can bring increased risks and exposures to many environmental conditions; over-exposure to ultraviolet radiation (UVR) from the sun can be a serious workplace hazard and can result in numerous health conditions such as skin cancer, sunburns, eye damage, and heat stress.

Outdoor workers have up to a 3.5 times greater risk of developing skin cancer than those who work indoors, but proper protection from the sun can help your employees stay healthy and happy.

Benefits of promoting sun safety within the workplace

  • Fewer absence days caused by the associated effects of sunburn. The average melanoma patient loses 28 days of work per diagnosis
  • Higher productivity by promoting a healthier and better informed workforce
  • Lowered health care and insurance costs
  • Protection from legal claims and litigation

How to support employees

 Raising awareness

Awareness raising activities can teach workers how to protect themselves while on and off the job. Try the following:

  • Lunch and learns
  • Pamphlets and brochures
  • Mobile health technology/apps
  • Emails, newsletters and other employee communication
  • Bulletin boards and posters
  • Health screening and assessment tools 
Building skills 

Skill-building activities help show employees how to apply measures that keep themselves safe while working outdoors through:

  • Self-monitoring tools
  • Health screening and health risk assessment
  • Lunch and learns
  • Mobile health technology 
 Creating a supportive environment

Supportive environments strengthen and improve employees’ healthy practices and make it easier for them to make healthy choices. Examples of these include:

  • Provision of safety equipment such as hats with protective flaps, sunglasses, and protective clothing
  • Flexibility in work schedules to avoid work during really high UV days and times
  • Easily accessible temperature and UV index readings
  • Access to shade
 Policy development

Policies improve and sustain healthy practices by clarifying roles and expectations between employers and employees.

Sun protection workplace policies can:

  • Provide and create a healthy and safe workplace for outdoor workers
  • Increase productivity as a result of a healthier and better informed workforce
  • Lower health care and insurance costs 
 Resources and toolkits

For more information on sun protection in the workplace, see the following online resources:

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