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Managing the Risk of Occupational Sun Exposure

Explore the ways to manage and mitigate the risk of occupational sun exposure

Understanding occupational sun exposure is the first step to reduce and protect workers against developing skin cancer.

We've combined the experience and knowledge of Arco's experts into a guide on best practice working techniques to help minimise the potential impact of occupational sun exposure to your outdoor workers.

UV Index

UV Index Chart

The UV index forecast by the Met Office identifies the strength of the ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun at a particular place on a particular day, allowing you to take the necessary precautions to help reduce the impact on your health.

In the UK the forecast is predominantly throughout the summer months, with late June seen as the peak, however this is dependent on weather conditions.

The aim of the UV index is to warn people of the increased risk, and encourage them to take actions, to protect themselves against the risks of skin cancer and skin damage.

To find out the daily UV index level visit

When the UV index reaches 3 and above, protection is required.

Employee Awareness

Employees who work outdoors for a long time need to be aware of the sun's hidden risk factors and the consequences of inaction.

Outdoor workers could be exposed to more sun than is healthy for them and therefore need to be aware of the risk factors and consequences of inaction. They should:

  • Comply with all preventative measures in place
  • Wear appropriate protective clothing
  • Stay in the shade whenever possible, especially during breaks
  • Wear a high-factor sunscreen that’s been provided

Employees should report any signs of skin issues to their supervisor, health and safety representation, occupational doctor or nurse and take the appropriate action required. Any concerns about their skin health should also be discussed with their GP.

Employee Awareness

Implementing Correct Procedures

Sun exposure should be covered in any risk assessment for outdoor work, which should help you identify hazards and plan ahead.

Simply telling workers they must cover up or wear sunscreen is not going to be effective alone. Success lies in using different kinds of interventions:

  • Provide workers with the right information, training, and on-going support
  • Re-organise work practices to avoid the UV peak of the day, when the sun's UV rays are less intensive (before 10am or after 3pm)
  • When the UV index reaches three or above, implement the 5S Approach and provide workers with protective clothing, sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses

Measures are most effective when your workforce are involved in making decisions. Arrange regular discussions and consider their views when introducing new sun safety initiatives.


Sunscreen protects skin from the sun’s broad spectrum of harmful UV rays.

The sun protection factor (SPF) number tells you how long the sun's UV radiation would take to redden your skin when using the product as directed versus the amount of time without any sunscreen.

For example, applying an SPF30 will protect your skin 30 times longer than if you were not wearing sunscreen. SPF numbers are not exact, and results vary by individual as some skin types burn faster than others.

As best practice, apply sunscreen liberally to clean, dry skin, 15 minutes before going outdoors. Re-apply every 2-3 hours.

Only applying half the required amount reduces the protection by as much as two-thirds, so more is better.

SCJP Sun Protect 30 Sunscreen Tube

More from Arco

Recommended Products

Our range of sun protection lotions and dispensers are ideal for outdoor workers who need to protect themselves against damaging ultraviolet rays.

All Expert Advice