How to be SunSmart when working outdoors

If you work outdoors, you’re more at risk

How to be SunSmart when working outdoors
How to be SunSmart when working outdoors

UV radiation produced by the sun can’t be seen or felt. It can permanently damage our skin without us realising, and it accumulates over time. This damage is irreversible and can eventually lead to skin cancer. 

As an outdoor worker: 

  • You receive significantly more UV radiation than people who work indoors – as much as ten times more. 
  • You have a higher-than-average risk of developing common skin cancers. 

An estimated 200 melanomas and 34,000 other skin cancers diagnosed each year in Australia are the result of UV damage in the workplace.

Know how to protect yourself 

If you regularly work outdoors, protecting your skin from the sun is recommended all year round, regardless of UV level - even on cool and overcast days.  

This is because you’re exposed to UV radiation daily, for long periods - and it is this year-round accumulation of sun exposure that increases your risk of skin cancer.

You should protect your skin from sun damage every day by following five simple SunSmart steps:

     1. Slip on sun protective clothing 

Long pants and work shirts with a collar and long sleeves are best. If possible, choose clothes made from lightweight, closely woven fabrics with a UV protection factor (UPF) 50+. 

     2. Slop on SPF 30 (or higher) broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen 

Apply sunscreen generously 20 minutes before you start working outdoors. Reapply every two hours, or more often if sweating or working with water to ensure your skin is protected throughout the day.

     3. Slap on a shady hat 

A hat should shade your face, ears and neck from the sun. Broad-brimmed, bucket style or legionnaire hats are the best. If you’re wearing a hard hat or a helmet, use a brim attachment.

     4. Seek shade  

Work and take breaks in the shade. Whenever possible, plan to work indoors or in the shade during the middle of the day when UV radiation levels are strongest.  

     5. Slide on sunglasses 

Protect your eyes from the sun when working outdoors during daylight hours by wearing close-fitting wraparound sunglasses, or tinted safety glasses that offer UV protection.

Even if you have not been following these steps before, it’s never too late to start! Every time you protect your skin with the five SunSmart steps, you’re reducing your chance of developing skin cancer.