Sun safety advice for outdoor workers

Sun safety advice for outdoor workers

The HSA remind outdoor workers and employers that sun protection is vital during summer months

Even on cloudy days, the importance of sun protection for outdoor workers remains critical. The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) is urging employers and employees across the country to take proactive measures to protect themselves from the harmful effects of ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Outdoor workers, including those in construction, agriculture, landscaping, and fisheries, are at an increased risk of exposure to harmful UV rays, which can lead to serious health issues, including skin cancer, cataracts, and heat-related illnesses. Recent studies have highlighted a troubling rise in skin cancer cases among outdoor workers, emphasising the need for enhanced protective measures.

Employers have a legal and moral obligation to safeguard the health of their employees. The HSA recommends the following steps for employers to mitigate the risks associated with UV exposure:

  1. Risk Assessment: Conduct thorough risk assessments to identify potential UV hazards and implement appropriate control measures.
  2. Education and Training: Provide training programs to educate workers about the dangers of UV radiation and the importance of sun protection.
  3. Protective Clothing: Ensure that workers wear appropriate clothing, including wide-brimmed hats, long-sleeved shirts, and sunglasses that offer UV protection.
  4. Sunscreen Provision: Supply broad-spectrum sunscreen with a high SPF and encourage regular application.
  5. Scheduling Adjustments: Whenever possible, schedule outdoor work to avoid peak UV radiation times, typically between 11 am and 3 pm.
  6. Shade and Breaks: Provide shaded areas and encourage regular breaks to reduce prolonged sun exposure.

Employees are encouraged to take personal responsibility for their sun safety by:

  • Wearing Protective Gear: Always wear sun-protective clothing, hats, and sunglasses.
  • Using Sunscreen: Apply a generous amount of broad-spectrum sunscreen 20 minutes before going outside and reapply every two hours, or more frequently if sweating
  • Seeking Shade: Take advantage of shaded areas during breaks and lunchtime.
  • Hydration: Stay hydrated to help the body cope with heat and sun exposure.

Tim Dowling, Senior Inspector, HSA said:

Protecting outdoor workers from the harmful effects of UV radiation is crucial. Even on cloudy days in summer the UV index can be high. With proper education and preventive measures, we can significantly reduce the risk of skin cancer and other sun-related health issues for outdoor workers.

Ronan Redmond, Executive, Safety & Training, Construction Industry Federation (CIF) supported the promotion of this key safety message adding

The CIF encourage all members to actively engage with supports available including the HSA guidance and advice for outdoor workers and sun exposure. We know great steps have been taken by the industry and it’s important these initiatives continue to be promoted on sites across the country.

For more information about sun protection for outdoor workers, please visit the HSA website www.hsa.ie

Source: hsa.ie