Sun protection for outdoor workers

There are simple measures employers and employees can take to help reduce their risk of skin cancer. Find out what you can do to protect yourself and your workers from UV radiation and skin cancer.

Sun protection for outdoor workers


Outdoor workers are exposed to over three times more UV radiation than
indoor workers.

UV radiation is a major workplace hazard, putting outdoor workers at a higher risk of developing skin cancers that can’t simply be cut out.

In NSW the UV is high (3 or above) for at least 10 months of the year.  A UV index of 3 and above can damage unprotected skin, this means you still need sun protection on cool or cloudy days, even in autumn and spring. The UV levels usually peak between 10am-2pm (or 11am-3pm during daylight savings).

The good news is that sun protection is easy and effective – no matter where you work outdoors.

A group of outdoor workers talking on-site

How sun safe is your workplace?

We have compiled a list of control measures that are part of a strong sun/UV radiation protection policy to reduce workplace exposure to UV radiation from the sun.

Check what protections your workplace has or could implement. These control measures may be routinely practiced without a specific written procedure or policy but its better to write them down so everyone on site knows what they need to do.

Use the rating scale to select whether your workplace has or will implement each measure for employees who spend time working outdoors.

Use our checklist to see how many sun-safe controls you have in place

Workplace protective measures checklist download

Controlling UV radiation in the workplace

UV radiation is a major workplace hazard. Employers have a duty of care to protect their workers from UV radiation and skin cancer. Use these resources to keep your workers safe.  

The hierarchy of risk control

The hierarchy of UV risk control infographic

More information on ways to control UV radiation in the workplace

Add shade – where possible, provide temporary or permanent shade structures and/or natural tree shade for workers over their work areas and where they take breaks. If using shade fabric, choose one that has an Ultraviolet Effectiveness (UVE) rating of at least 95%.

• Reduce reflective surfaces – consider changes to reduce the amount of light coloured and hard surfaces such as sand and concrete as they reflect UV radiation onto workers. Moving work to grassed areas or covering reflective surfaces with shade/fabrics when not in use are examples of measures that could be taken to reduce UV exposure.

• Add window tinting – where possible apply clear or tinted UPF films to work vehicles and buildings. Often only the windscreens in vehicles are UV protective.
• Scheduling outdoor work – plan outdoor tasks to be completed outside of peak UV times (10am–3pm) where possible or move outdoor tasks to shaded areas.

• Rotating staff – share indoor and outdoor tasks amongst workers to limit the amount of UV exposure each worker receives.

Training and resources – provide workers with information and support about the risks of UV radiation at work and how they can protect themselves. Check  the UV index with the team at the start of the day and encourage workers to check it throughout the day.

Sun protection policy – develop a sun protection policy which is specific to your workplace and includes all types of control measures. Include a plan for implementing and monitoring the policy.
Clothing – provide workers with long-sleeved collared shirts and trousers made from light weight and breathable fabrics with an Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) of 50+.

Hats – provide workers with a broad-brimmed hat and/or helmet (7.5cm brim), bucket hat (6cm brim and deep crown), or legionnaires hat or helmet with neck flap.

Sunglasses – provide workers with sunglasses that meet the Australian Standard AS/NZ 1067 and sit close to and wrap around the face.

Sunscreen – provide workers with SPF30 or 50+ broad spectrum sunscreen with a reminder to apply 20 minutes before working outdoors and to reapply every 2 hours. Dry touch sunscreen may be useful in a work environment.

Orange tick  If you or your team work outdoors, prevent skin cancer by including these 5 simple steps as part of our routine.

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on protective clothing


on SPF50+ sunscreen


on a wide-brim hat



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on sunglasses


The 'Change Your Routine' campaign

 The Cancer Institute NSW has developed a hard-hitting campaign to encourage outdoor workers to make sun protection part of their daily routine.

The 'Change Your Routine' campaign targets all outdoor workers, in particular men over 40 years, who are 2.5 times more likely to die from melanoma than women the same age.

These campaign materials will help you protect your workers from UV radiation and skin cancer.

Share the video


Display the posters at your workplace

Posters from the Outdoor Workers Campaign

‘Change Your Routine’ campaign toolkit for social media

Social media tiles

Further information and resources

UV radiation at work – the facts - Information about UV radiation, the risks and how to prevent exposure in the workplace - SafeWork NSW

Workplaces and Sun Protection - Detailed information about sun safety in the workplace and workplace policy - Cancer Council NSW

SunSmart Tradies - Toolbox for resources for employers/site managers and staff who are exposed to UV radiation daily - Cancer Council Australia

The Tradie Test - Discover your risk rating and what can be done to protect your skin from the sun’s UV radiation - Cancer Council Australia

The Cancer Council SunSmart app - Provides UV and sun protection alerts - Cancer Council Australia

Protect Your Skin - Information from the latest summer campaign - Cancer Institute NSW

Shade and UV protection - Information and resources about shade for UV protection - Cancer Institute NSW


Cancer screening

Early detection of cancer can significantly improve outcomes for patients.

When it comes to bowel cancer, if detected early, it can be successfully treated in more than 90% of cases. If you’re aged between 50-74, do the free bowel screening test when it comes in the post.