National Sun Awareness Week: Sun safety at work

Summer is coming!!!


We all know that it is important to apply the sun cream and get the sunglasses and hats out on a summers day. But what about when you are at work?


You may have found yourself sat in the office by the window - getting one side of your arm and face burnt. Or maybe you've been in a hot factory forgetting to drink enough and suffering from heat exhaustion. Or perhaps you simply have a role which requires you to work outside for long periods, increasing your chance of burning.


Sound familiar?

Although you may not be at the seaside eating ice cream, it doesn't mean you should overlook the risks of the sun. The sun can have a serious impact on health and performance of you and your colleagues in the workplace.


A sun burnt shoulder.
The more sun cream you apply, the better protection you have.

Sun Awareness Week

Sun Awareness Week is an effective way to promote the importance of sun protection and safe behaviour. The HSE (Health and Safety Executive) state that a sign of skin damage is in fact when a person is tanned....so you could say looking good costs your health!


Skin can burn, peel and blister. This is incredibly sore and is all part of the process for damaged skin. Not to mention the increased risks it has, associated with skin cancers.


At risk groups of sun damage

  • People with many moles.

  • Red/fair hair and light eye colouring.

  • Freckled/fair skin which goes red before it tans or those who don’t tan at all.

Sunny day checklist

  • Be aware that the sun in the UK is strongest between 11am-3pm.

  • Cover the body by keeping tops on.

  • Wear a hat, preferably which covers the ears and neck.

  • Where possible, stay in the shade.

  • Keep hydrated by drinking more water than usual.

  • Use a high factor suncream with a good star rating and apply regularly.

  • Check your body for any unusual changes to moles and contact your GP if you are concerned.


Suncream matters

  • The star rating for UVA (ultra violet radiation) protection is important. Aim for 4-5 stars. This means your skin is most protected. The more stars there are, the better. These are usually found on the back of suncream bottles.

  • The SPF (sun protection factor) is for UVB (ultraviolet B) radiation protection. This effectively prevents burning. The general rule is that the higher the factor, the longer the reapplication time can be. Of course this does not mean you should wait for reapplication time because the more you apply, the better protection you have. However, it is good to point out that factor 50 = 500 minutes of protection, as 30 = 300 minutes and so on.

  • If you know you will be out in the sun for a long period of time, be sure to apply cream twice before leaving. Once 30 minutes before and again just before you go out into the sunshine.


Staying sun aware is important - even in a workplace setting. These simple hints and tips can not only prevent the uncomfortable effects of sun damage, but can also protect you and your colleagues from long term conditions related to sun exposure.

Take a look at the Sun Awareness Week campaign "Don't Bake, Bake" - why not spread the word in your workplace and organise a Don.t Bake, Bake cake sale?

Our sources and for more information:

HSE http://www.hse.gov.uk/skin/sunprotect.htm

NHS https://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/skin/Pages/Sunsafe.aspx#SPF

WHO http://www.who.int/uv/sun_protection/en/

Cancer Research UK http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/causes-of-cancer/sun-uv-and-cancer/ways-to-enjoy-the-sun-safely

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Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.