Protect Your Worker’s Skin from Sun Damage

June 12, 2024
Contact us
Request a call back

As we move towards the time of year when the sun is at its strongest, it is more important than ever to take appropriate precautions to protect employees from sun damage and skin cancer. Particular care should be taken when employees work outside for extended periods, for example as in the construction and agricultural sectors.

Anyone who works outside for extended periods, particularly between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. when the sun is strongest, is at risk of suffering sun damage. Sun damage can lead to skin cancer. There are two main types of skin cancer. The first of these is non-melanoma skin cancer, which often develops on areas of exposed skin when outdoors, is caused by exposure UV rays, and is visible as lumps and patches on the skin that fail to heal. The other being malignant melanoma, a cancer that occurs in skin cells in melanocytes and is thought to be caused by exposure to light from the sun.


Employees should protect themselves from such risks by:

  • Taking regular breaks in the shade
  • Applying suncream:
    • Of the appropriate amount, 6 to 8 teaspoons for all exposed areas of skin
    • That is not past its expiration date.
    • Of at least SPF 30
    • 30 minutes before sun exposure
    • And reapplying sunscreen where required.
    • Even when it is cloudy, 90% of UV rays penetrate cloud cover.
  • Regularly drinking water
  • Wearing appropriate clothing, i.e., long sleeves, a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses with appropriate markings to protect the eyes, trousers, or long skirts.


Additionally, employers can help employees protect themselves by providing shade, water, sunscreen, being more flexible with breaks and carefully planning the work being done, this could include:

  • Moving jobs indoors if possible.
  • Ensuring that work is completed earlier in the morning when UV rays are not as strong
  • Providing more breaks when the sun is at its strongest.


Certain jobs may require employees to wear PPE. PPE can be uncomfortable in high temperatures; however it is important that employees are prompted to keep their PPE on for their own safety. One option may be to provide additional breaks in an area where they can remove PPE, allowing them to cool down.

If an employee does suffer from sunburn, they should be prompted to check their skin for any unusual moles or spots. Medical advice should be obtained where a mole or spot is found to be changing in shape, size, or colour, or is itching or bleeding, this could be from the employees GP or a specialist.

Employers should encourage their employees to work safely in the sun and take the appropriate precautions to prevent sun damage to their skin.

Information about sun safety can be found on the NHS website.

If you have any questions or would like support with managing issues at your workplace, please speak to your usual contact or get in touch using the form below.