Being out in the sun can be good for you, but here’s what your staff need to know!


Being out in the sun can be good for you, but here’s what your staff need to know!:

As many of your staff may work outdoors, or travel for long periods in the sunshine, and the summer sun is now lurking behind the clouds, have you considered if they are applying their sunscreen correctly? Unprotected exposure to the sun can cause much publicised immediate and long-term health problems so it is important employees receive appropriate advice to stay well while basking in the sunshine.

Sunscreen needs to be applied half an hour before they go out and as soon as they are exposed to the sun if they’re going to be out long enough to risk being burnt.

The National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) released new guidelines on the risks and benefits of exposure to sunlight.

The guidelines state sunscreen should be “reapplied liberally, frequently and according to the manufacturer’s instructions”. Sunscreen needs to be reapplied after being in the water even if the sunscreen claims to be water-resistant.  They also need to reapply after towel-drying or sweating as it is likely that the sunscreen will not sufficiently be able to offer protection against the suns UV rays.

Anybody planning to be out in the sun long enough to risk burning, needs to be applying sunscreen twice to exposed areas of skin, both half an hour before and again at the time they go out and are exposed to the sun. This includes the face, neck and ears along with a wide-brimmed hat.

Healthwork Advice and Discussion:

The advice issued by NICE should also be taken into consideration not just for those staff members travelling abroad but also for employees whose job roles are based outdoors, such as Construction workers or Gardeners for example. The same risk applies to staff who drive in the sun for prolonged periods.  As an employer you should provide your staff with sun protection advice whilst encouraging your staff to keep covered up during the summer months especially at lunch time when the sun is at its hottest.

We all need exposure to sunlight to make Vitamin D, but getting too much sun increases the risk of developing skin cancer.

If enough sunscreen is not applied, individuals are only receiving a fraction of the SPF advertised on the bottle.  The recommended average amount required to cover an adult and achieve the required SPF is 35 ml or 6 to 8 teaspoons of lotion.

NICE state that even on a cool or cloudy day, it is still possible for somebody to get sunburnt around midday in the summer months and that a common misconception that a “base tan” can protect you from harm is untrue as the skin damage resulting from any tan outweighs the slight protective effect. 

A suntan is a sign that the skin has already been damaged by too much sun exposure and by continuing to expose the skin to UV rays for a deeper tan will only continue to damage the skin further.

NICE also advises that it is not possible to obtain enough Vitamin D from sunlight in the UK between the months of October and March therefore, promoting the importance to staff, of maintaining their Vitamin D intake can decrease the chances of developing heart disease according to the 2008 findings published in Circulation along with the likelihood of developing the flu and regulating individuals moods and warding off depression. 

One natural way to obtain further Vitamin D is through increasing certain foods within our diet such as fatty fish like tuna or salmon as well as foods fortified with Vitamin D like that which is found in most cereals.

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