Skin protection from sun exposure when working outdoors

Updated 8 July 2022

HSENI is continuing to work with it’s partners in the Public Health Agency (PHA) and Cancer Focusing NI as part of the Northern Ireland Skin Cancer Prevention Strategy Implementation Group to remind everyone to 'Be UV Aware' and to take care in the sun according to the level of ultraviolet (UV) radiation. 

This information has been developed to enable employers of those undertaking outdoor work and “outdoor workers” to take the necessary precautions to protect themselves against the harmful effects of sun exposure on the skin, as over exposure to UV rays can cause skin damage leading to cancer. 

Skin cancer is still the most common cancer in Northern Ireland, accounting for 31 percent of all cancers with sunlight and sunbeds being recognised as the main sources.

Out of the 4,361 people who develop this disease every year, some 399 are diagnosed with the most serious type, malignant melanomas which unfortunately are on the increase. Sadly, each year in Northern Ireland it is estimated that skin cancer kills around 93 people. 

Outdoor work – risk from sun exposure

It has been estimated that outdoor workers can have up to five to ten times more sun exposure than indoors workers and are at increased risk of developing skin cancer.

How to be UV Aware

The Solar UV Index shows how much UV radiation there is and how much care needs to be taken. UV levels vary with the seasons and time of day, but when the UV index is three or more, protection of skin and eyes is needed.

It is therefore important to know what the UV index is throughout the day. You can check the UV index forecast at the following link:

When to expect significant levels of UV radiation

In Northern Ireland exposure to significant levels of UV radiation occurs between March and October, even on cool or cloudy days with the sun’s UV rays being particularly strong around the middle of the day, from 11am to 3pm.

Individual Risk Factors

It is important to note that anyone can develop skin cancer whatever their natural skin type, with certain skin types being at increased risk.

For more information on the risk factors refer to the following link:

Skin protection from sun exposure – Outdoor work

Further information on “Protecting your skin when working outdoors”  can be found at the following link:


Ensuring effectiveness of sunscreens

It is important to remember that how often you apply your sunscreen and how much you apply will affect how well it protects you.

To further assist you with this please refer to the link below which feature two sunscreen information videos related to “choosing a sunscreen” and “how to apply sunscreen”:

Video 1 – choosing a sunscreen:

YouTube link:

Video 2 – when to apply sunscreen:

YouTube link:

Useful links: