Your Guide to Sun Safety

You cannot see it or feel it. It can pass through clouds or lightly woven material and, likes asbestos and tobacco, can cause cancer. Here is how to protect yourself from the sun’s ultraviolet radiation (UVR).

For anyone who works outside, UVR is a potential workplace hazard. It can cause lasting damage to eyes and skin and is the main cause of skin cancer. You do not even have to work in direct sunlight to be affected as UVR can be reflected off certain materials, such as concrete, metal, snow and sand.

Manage the risk

Like any hazard, risks associated with exposure to UVR must be eliminated as much as possible.

Some recommendations:

  • Working indoors if possible.
  • Replacing the hazard with a safer option. This could be working during the early morning and late afternoon when the risk of UVR exposure is lower.
  • Isolating the risk, such as working undercover or in a well-shaded area.
  • Using engineering controls. These are physical control measures to minimise the risk from UVR, such as permanent shade structures, or altering a surface to be less reflective.

Use your PPE

It is not always possible to avoid exposure to UVR so it is important to protect yourself with personal protective equipment (PPE). This includes:

  • UPF 50+ clothing. UVR can pass through lighter colours or lightly woven fabrics. An everyday white cotton T-shirt has a UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) of only about 5, which is why you need to wear clothing that is designed to block at least 98 per cent of UVR.
  • Broad brimmed hats or hard hats with brims/flaps.
  • At least SPF 30+ broad-spectrum water-resistant sunscreen. Do not rely on sunscreen alone – always use it with other sun protection control measures. Reapply sunscreen at least every two hours or more if sweating.

Want to know your risk on any given day?

Try the World Health Organization recommended SunSmart Global UV app available at both the Apple App and Google Play stores.