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At this time of year the risks from exposure to the sun’s rays might seem like a rather distant threat, but for those who spend large periods of their working lives outside, it is very real, and something that must be taken seriously.

It has become common knowledge that too much sunlight is harmful for your skin. What we used to think of as a ‘healthy tan’ has become a sign that the skin is damaged due to exposure to ultraviolet rays within sunlight.

Which jobs carry the highest risks?

If you work outdoors for long periods of time your skin could be exposed to more sunlight than is good for you. If you work in the following industries or jobs you should be aware of the dangers of the sun:

  • Agriculture – such as farming or market gardening
  • Grounds-keeping – such as lawn mowing, garden maintenance
  • Construction – builders, scaffolders, roofers and painters and decorators
  • Public Service roles such as police and traffic wardens
  • Any job that involves spending long periods outside

In addition to the jobs listed above, you must be particularly careful regarding any exposure to the sun if you have fair or freckled skin that doesn’t tan, or goes red or burns before it tans, if you have red or fair hair and light coloured eyes, or if you have a large number of moles on your skin.

How to protect yourself

While the first thing you might feel like doing when working in the sun is to remove clothing, this is actually one of the worst things you can do. While you may feel a little cooler without wearing a t-shirt or jacket, the risks you encounter through the direct sunlight on your skin far outweigh the refreshing breeze on your back.

Wearing a hat might seem like the thing to do in cold weather, but by protecting your head and neck from the sun you reduce your risk of sun-stroke and the risks of sun burn and potentially skin cancer.

Particularly in this climate, the sunshine seems like a wonderful place to enjoy your breaks, but staying in the shade wherever possible is far better for your skin.

Sun-screen can be a really helpful ally in the fight against skin-cancer and sunburn. Use a high factor (SPF 15 or above) protector on any exposed skin.

Drinking plenty of water throughout the day has a range of health benefits, including maintaining hydration of the skin.

Regularly check your skin for any unusual moles or blemishes. IF you find anything unusual you should consult your doctor – when caught early skin cancer survival rates are far higher than those detected late on.

What if I have been exposed to too much sunlight at work?

If you or someone you care for has been exposed to too much sunlight at work and have, as a result, developed issues such as skin cancer, you might be entitled to make a claim for compensation. Employers have a duty to protect their workforce from danger, and that includes the risks of sun exposure. Contact one of our highly experienced solicitors today to find out how we can help.