Too much exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun causes skin cancer. In Queensland, we have the highest rate of skin cancer in the world. Employees who work outdoors are at the greatest risk of skin cancer due to year-round exposure to high levels of UV radiation.
You can’t see or feel UV radiation and its intensity is unrelated to the sun’s heat. This makes sun safety important all year-round—even on cloudy days. There are also artificial sources of UV radiation in the workplace, in jobs such as welding.
All workplaces should make sun safety a priority. Your employees need to be aware of the dangers of unsafe exposure to the sun. A sun safety policy can help ensure a safe and healthy environment.
Ideas for action: encourage sun safety at work
- Develop a sun safety policy.
- Organise schedules so outdoor work is completed early in the morning or late in the afternoon.
- Provide shade for outdoor workers where possible.
- Provide personal protective equipment including sun protective clothing, broad-brimmed hats, sunglasses and SPF30+ sunscreen.
- Provide training and education sessions on sun protection.
- Display reminders for sun protection.
- Have managers act as sun safety role models when outdoors or nominate sun safety champions.
- Contact Cancer Council Queensland to provide a speaker to educate employees about sun safety on a regular basis.
UV radiation and the UV index
- The UV index measures UV radiation.
- Use the UV index as a tool to develop your workplace sun protection policy.
- Sun protection is required once the UV index hits 3 (moderate).
- In Queensland, the UV index can reach 3 by 7.30am all year round, so sun protection is important in all seasons and throughout the day.
The laws that apply
- The Work Health and Safety Act 2011 outlines the obligations of workplaces to ensure health and safety.
- UV exposure is a hazard. Employers and employees are obliged under the Act to reduce workplace hazards. Failure to do so can cause personal suffering, financial loss and may result in legal action.
Some employees can claim work related sun protection clothing and equipment. See The Australian Taxation Office