Protecting employees from the sun

Protecting employees from the sun

Posted on: 28/07/2015

As British citizens we're used to the weather being temperamental, ranging from scorching hot sun one day to torrential rain the next. A large proportion of the public is protected from the elements working within the comfort of an office but what about those who, come rain or shine, fulfil their jobs outside?

The construction industry is one of the most exposed sectors to work in, particularly during the height of summer. Accustomed to working outside, employees are often unaware of the risk of too much UV exposure which reiterates the importance of an employer's duty of care. Companies have a responsibility to protect their employees from harm; including from the sun.

Overexposure to the sun and ultra violet light could lead employees to suffer from skin cancer, now known as the most common cancer in the world. It's important to note that non-melanoma and malignant melanoma are treatable if found early enough so helping to control exposure to the sun is key. Here are a few tips to help:

•    Check the UV Index daily – many weather forecasts give this index, on a scale of 1 (low) to 11 (extreme) which may help to plan outdoor work

•    Remember that cloud cover does not filter out ultraviolet light – up to 80% still gets through

•    Be aware that 60% of ultraviolet radiation occurs between 10am and 2pm

•    Provide shade for outdoor work because ensuring rest breaks are taken in the shade could reduce exposure to UV by more than 50%

•    Think about encouraging your employees to wear long sleeves and trousers and wide-brimmed hats in the sun, and remember to adjust work-rates accordingly. Hard work in hot weather can rapidly affect a person's well-being and their ability to think and act appropriately

•    Consider adding guidance to your employee handbook, encouraging those outside to take care and always use sun protection

With 5.5 million people exposed to ultraviolet sun light through their job, these small actions could have a significant impact on your employees' long-term health.