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Health hazards in focus: Sun exposure

April 29, 2019

People who work outdoors receive up to 10 times more sun exposure than indoor workers.

Outdoor workers and workers who are outdoors periodically will be exposed to the sun and the two main hazards this presents: Over exposure to UV radiation and heat stress.

Duty of care

State Occupational Health and Safety Acts require employers to provide and maintain safe working environments. Employers must ensure their employees can work safely and without risk to their health - this includes exposure to UV radiation. In turn, employees have a responsibility for their own safety and health, and must follow UV protection policies and use sun protective measures provided.

Cooperation between employers and employees can help minimise UV exposure in the workplace, and this may include:

More information about sunsmart workplaces is available in Cancer Council's position statement on sun protection in the workplace and resources for workplaces, including brochures and posters.

SafeWork Australia has produced a Guide on exposure to solar ultraviolet radiation (UVR), which contains information on the risks of solar UVR exposure; the control measures that can be used to help eliminate or minimise, so far as is reasonably practicable, a worker’s exposure to solar UVR in the workplace; and guidance on how to implement a sun protection program at your workplace.

The 2017 skin health Australia report card (PDF - 2.13Mb) found that over two million employees who work outdoors are not being provided with any sun protection by their employers, with 57% of outdoor workers saying their employers do not supply sunscreen, 66% do not supply protective clothing and 80% do not provide sunglasses.