Ahead of the Bank Holiday weekend in Britain, hospitality businesses are today urged to ensure staff working outdoors are protected from the sun.

While cooler and cloudier weather is expected – with some rain possible – 80 percent of dangerous UV rays can get through a cloudy sky.

And with pubs, restaurants and cafes currently only allowed to operate outdoors, potentially putting thousands of workers at risk, the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) says businesses can take simple steps to protect them.

As part of its No Time to Lose occupational cancer campaign, IOSH has a series of resources which advise employers and employees on how to protect themselves from solar radiation, which can cause skin cancer.

The measures include allowing staff to wear long, loose clothing to keep the sun off their skin as well as hats and sunglasses with UV protection. They can also provide shaded areas for staff to have time out of the sun and sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher.

IOSH President Jimmy Quinn said: “Even if the weather is a little cooler and cloudier, the hospitality industry is likely to be busy over the Bank Holiday weekend. This means more people working outdoors and being exposed to solar radiation, which can of course cause skin cancer.

“We encourage businesses in this and other sectors to put sun-safe measures in place to protect their staff from the sun’s harmful rays. And we encourage workers to adhere to the measures. These are very simple steps to follow. They aren’t costly, they don’t impact on productivity and, most importantly, they protect people.”

IOSH’s call also comes ahead of Sun Awareness Week, which begins on Monday 3 May. In Britain, about 50 people die every year from malignant melanoma, a type of skin cancer, following exposure to solar radiation at work. There are about 240 new cases every year, while there are also 1,500 cases of non-melanoma skin cancer diagnosed.  

Outdoor workers are particularly at risk, with figures showing they receive five to ten times more sun exposure than indoor workers every year.

IOSH launched the solar radiation phase of its No Time to Lose campaign in 2015, and worked closely with sectors where many people work outdoors, including construction.

The Institution showcase how the risks can be managed, through its resources and guidance available on the campaign website