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Outdoor workers and sun exposure

What is the problem?

Too much sunlight is harmful to your skin. A tan is a sign that the skin has been damaged. The damage is caused by ultraviolet (UV) rays in sunlight.

Who is at risk?

If work keeps you outdoors for a long time your skin could be exposed to more sun than is healthy for you. Outdoor workers that could be at risk include farm or construction workers, market gardeners, outdoor activity workers and some public service workers. If you have naturally brown or black skin, you are less at risk of skin cancer, although cases do occur. Therefore, when the sunlight is intense, it would be sensible if you also followed the guidance below to protect yourself. You should take particular care if you have:

What are the harmful effects?

In the short term, even mild reddening of the skin from sun exposure is a sign of damage. Sunburn can blister the skin and make it peel.

Longer term problems can arise. Too much sun speeds up ageing of the skin, making it leathery, mottled and wrinkled. The most serious effect is an increased chance of developing skin cancer.

What can you do to protect yourself?

Where can you get further information?

The following free leaflets have been produced by HSE:

The following website also provides useful information:

Updated 2014-06-09