Sun Safe Myths

4 September 2017

Beach Huts
Employees who spend some or all of their working day outdoors are at risk to a high level of UV rays.  Employers are responsible in creating a healthy and safe workplace and ensuring employees are aware of the dangers of the sun.  

Did you know that some can get sunburn on overcast days?  Many employers underestimate the level of protection their staff require.  Exposure to the sun can cause sunburn, aging, skin cancer and irreversible eye conditions.  Find common sun myths below to better protect your employees.

Myth #1:  In the UK, UV exposure for outdoor workers is highest in the summer.

Reality:  Regardless of the season, exposure is actually the same year-round.  In fact, even in the coldest conditions UV rays can reflect off white snow and be more damaging than in warmer weather.  So, if you have staff outside in winter months, they still need to take the same level of precaution as the warmest time of year.

Myth #2: UV damage to the eyes can be reversed.

Reality:  Sun damage to the eyes is cumulative, meaning the lasting damage can slowly build up.  Over time this can really affect vision and eventually, lead to conditions such as cataracts.

Myth #3: Employees don’t need to worry about wearing sunglasses on a cloudy day.

Reality:  UV rays can get through clouds and they only reduce the amount of UV by around ten per cent.  Overcast days can still leave people vulnerable to high levels of UV exposure, it is important to wear sunglasses even on cloudy days.

Myth #4: Darker tinted lenses on outdoor workers will give them a higher level of UV protection.

Reality:  The tint of the lens will have no effect on UV protection but, will change the amount of light that goes into eyes.  Check for a CE mark on sunglasses to make sure they offer a good level of protection.

Myth #5: Outdoor workers with blue eyes have the same UV risk as everyone else.

Reality: Workers with blue eyes have less protective melanin pigment in their iris, making them more at risk to UV exposure and more susceptible to damage.

Be a sun smart employer!

No one should be exposed to dangerous UV rays that may cause cancer or lasting conditions during their work.  Employers have the duty to ensure they reduce the level or risk.

Here are a few suggestions in how employers could reduce risk to exposure wherever reasonably practicable:
●    Consider changes to workplace practices so that workers spend less time outside at the most dangerous time of day for UV exposure (11am to 3pm).
●    Consider options to provide employees with canopies, sheeting or covering over open areas at building sites where people are working.
●    Help educate by providing information and guidance on avoiding exposure to UV rays both as part of employee induction and on a regular basis.
●    Encourage employees to wear lightweight clothing that is dense enough to prevent UV rays from getting through and cool enough to allow body heat to escape.
●    Suggest outdoor workers wear brimmed hats.
●    Advise employees to wear appropriate sunglasses and re-apply sunscreen regularly.

This article was contributed by Vision Direct.