How to Protect Workers from Sun Exposure

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Around 15% of New Zealanders work outside and need to be protected from harmful UV exposure. UV radiation levels are at their peak from September to April here.

Know the risks

All types of sunburn can cause permanent and irreversible skin damage. New Zealand has one of the worst incidences of melanoma in the world.

The primary duty of care means that a business has the primary responsibility for the health and safety of workers and others influenced by its work. It is important to make workers aware of the risks and educate them about steps to protect themselves.

Minimise exposure

Risks of UV exposure cannot be completely eliminated, but they can be managed.

The Ultraviolet index is a measure of the level of UV radiation. The values of the index range from zero upward. The higher the UVI, the greater the potential for damage to the skin and eye.


If possible:

  • Schedule outdoor tasks for the morning or late afternoon when UV radiation levels are low
  • Schedule tasks that can be completed indoors or under cover between 10 am and 4 pm when UV radiation levels are high
  • Enable workers to rotate between indoor and outdoor tasks, so they aren’t continually exposed to solar UV radiation for long periods of time

Be sunsmart

Educate your team about being sunsmart. You could give regular reminders at morning briefings or team meetings.

SLIP into a long-sleeved shirt and into the shade when possible

SLOP on plenty of broad-spectrum sunscreen of at least SPF30+. Apply sunscreen at least 20 minutes before going outdoors and reapply every two hours

SLAP on a hat with a wide-brim or a cap with flaps

WRAP on a pair of wrap-around sunglasses

Common Myths:

I can’t get sunburnt on a cloudy day.

False. You can still get sunburnt on a cloudy day. UV radiation can get through light cloud cover, so unprotected skin can still be damaged.

I don’t need to worry about sunburn as I have dark skin.

False. New Zealand can have periods of very high UV radiation. Everyone, regardless of skin type and colour, is at risk of skin and eye damage.


For more information, download this guide from WorkSafe or .

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