BUNZL Cleaning & Hygiene Supplies Blog

Everything You Need To Know About Skin Protection For Outdoor Workers

Did you know that outdoor workers have a higher than average risk of developing skin cancer?

Shockingly, five people per day get skin cancer from sun exposure at work. This is why it’s vital that everyone is aware of the precautions they need to take to protect themselves from UV rays.


But what do outdoor workers, who are more vulnerable to sun exposure need to do to stay sun safe? With the help of Deb Group, we’ve put together some helpful tips below so that both employers and outdoor workers are fully educated. This information is significant – according to the IOSH No Time to Lose Solar Radiation Campaign, an amazing 90% of skin cancer deaths could be prevented.


Outdoor workers and sun exposure – advice according to the Health and Safety Executive


Typically outdoor workers are associated with industries such as construction, however, those that work on farms, market gardeners, and public sector workers are all at risk, or in fact, anyone that works outdoors for long periods of time. It is a particular concern for those who have a large number of moles, have fair hair and eyes and have fair or freckled skin. Getting painful sunburn, just once every two years can triple your risk of melanoma skin cancer.                                                                                                                                                                 In conjunction with the University of Nottingham, the IOSH revealed that 70% of employees have never received training on the risks of working outside. With employers having a duty of care to protect their employees from hazards in the workplace, of which UV radiation is such a hazard, it’s never been more important.

In order to protect yourself from both short and long-term effects of the sun, the Health and Safety Executive recommends the following –

  • Keep your top on.
  • Wear a hat with a brim or a flap that covers the ears and the back of the neck.
  • Stay in the shade whenever possible, during your breaks and especially at lunch time.
  • Use a high factor sunscreen of at least SPF15 on any exposed skin.
  • Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.
  • Check your skin regularly for any unusual moles or spots. See a doctor promptly if you find anything that is changing in shape, size or colour, itching or bleeding.


Is there a ‘sun safe’ solution for outdoor workers?


It is easy for outdoor workers to stick to many of the suggestions above, such as staying hydrated, but things become more complicated when it comes to using appropriate sunscreens. If it is not easily accessible, many outdoor workers become vulnerable.

This is why Health and Safety managers must provide a ‘broad spectrum’ sunscreen which prevents against UVA, UVB and UVC rays. Deb Group’s Stokoderm Sun Protect 30 Pure or Deb Stokoderm Sun Protect SPF50 Cartridge, are ideal choices, and even protects from rays created during industrial processes such as welding. For ease of use, a convenient dispenser prominently displayed is the ideal way to encourage outdoors workers to apply it. To inspire those working outside at schools and educational environments, the Deb Soaper Stars Sun Protect Dispenser is fun and eye-catching. For workers on the move, there is also a handy 100ml tube size available in either SPF 30 or 50.

It’s also important that outdoor workers are knowledgeable about the “UV Index”, which has been adopted by the World Health Organisation. The UV Index indicates on a daily basis what the UV levels are, and when sun protection measures are required. Most people believe that they only need to use sun protection when the sun is shining, however, everyone should be protected when the UV index reaches 3.


In order to increase awareness of the risks associated with UV exposure, a sun protection skin safety centre, and/ or sun solution packs are ideal choices. Not only will outdoor workers be provided with all of the key facts and statistics, but all the equipment they need to stay safe including sunscreen, a mirror for easy application, and cards to display the local UV index level.


How much sunscreen should outdoor workers be applying?


When it comes to application, Deb Group recommends that,

“For the average sized adult, it is recommended that employees apply at least one teaspoon of sunscreen to each arm, leg, front of body, back of body and face (including ears and neck).

“Where possible, it should be applied to clean, dry skin 15 minutes before the initial exposure, and reapplied liberally every two to three hours. For industrial workplaces, it is also crucial that the sunscreen chosen is both water and sweat-resistant, to ensure that they remain protected at work. Additionally, it is important for sunscreen to offer quick skin absorption to ensure that the hand dexterity with tools isn’t negatively impacted.”

To stock up on all the sun protection equipment you and your business needs this summer, visit our sun protection section. Have you taken the correct measures to protect outdoor workers from UV exposure? Comment below or let us know by Tweeting us @BunzlCleaning.

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