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Sun protection measures for builders and roofers

It is important for builders and roofers to be prepared for the summer sun. As trades that tend to work in all weathers, it is helpful to be familiar with all sun protection measures.

Whether you love the sun or hate it, being a builder or roofer means it is hard to avoid in the summer. When you are working outside for extended periods of time, you’ll need the best sun protection.

Why do you need sun protection as a tradesperson?

Getting the right sun protection measures in place may not seem like a priority. However, it is more important than you may think. Both builders and roofers are at increased risk of diseases such as skin cancer.

Being exposed to the sun’s rays for long periods of time is damaging to your skin. It can also lead to other medical issues and make it harder to focus on your work.

Avoid sunburn

Sunburn causes skin to be red, sore, warm to touch, itchy and tender. Bad sunburn can also lead to the skin peeling, flaking and even blistering in some cases.

While the skin will usually heal itself after about a week, getting sunburn more than once can increase your chances of developing skin cancer. Aftersun lotion may help in the short term, but it is best to avoid sunburn in the first place.

As well as being painful, severe sunburn can also lead to heat exhaustion and heatstroke. These are conditions which can be much more serious for your health.

Avoid heat exhaustion

During hot weather or exercise, there is a higher chance of developing heat exhaustion. It is a condition that happens when your body overheats.

Heat exhaustion can lead to tiredness, dizziness, cramps, weakness and headaches. None of these symptoms are good when working on a job, so it is crucial to drink lots of water and take good sun protection measures.

If heat exhaustion is not dealt with quickly and efficiently, it can lead to a worse condition called heat stroke.

heat exhaustion builder

Avoid premature ageing

Lengthy exposure to the sun will lead to your skin ageing quicker. That means that you’ll develop wrinkles earlier in life and increase the likelihood of going grey early too.

You don’t want to be looking older than you need to. If you’re in your 30s, you won’t want to look like a 50-year-old. Simply using the best sun protection will help you looking your best for longer.

Reduce the chance of skin cancer

Skin cancer is the main reason why as a builder or roofer you should be covering up in the summer.

Since the early 1990s, there has been a 140% increase in the number of people with skin cancer according to Cancer Research UK. There are around 17,000 new cases every year, making up around 4% of all cancer cases.

Construction workers are at more risk of getting skin cancer due to over exposure to UV. It is estimated that tradespeople working in construction make up nearly half the number of new cases and skin cancer deaths every year.

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What are the 5 sun protection measures?

Although there are a number of ways to protect yourself from the sun’s rays, there are 5 main methods you’ll need to follow. If you are a builder or roofer, you have to deal with the increased exposure.

Below are our top 5 sun protection measures:

Sun cream

Research carried out by Jewson indicated that around three-fifths of builders would be happy to put sun cream on a workmate. More than half of the people who replied said that they had been sunburnt in the previous two years.

Covering your skin against UV with all-day sun cream is a relatively hassle-free and quick way to stay protected. Yes, you may end up searching for how to get sun cream out of clothes, but it is worth it.

As a trade business owner, for example, you could buy a sunscreen dispenser for your employees.


Although it may not be what you want to hear when the weather is hot, clothing covers your skin even more effectively than sun cream. Long sleeves can get hot but do not underestimate the sun protection work shirts provide.

You can get lightweight workwear that comes in UV-protecting material. Perfect for the summer.

When working outdoors in the summer, why not vary your clothing throughout the day?

Long sleeves provide good cover, but you can get hot. You don’t want to overheat and develop heat exhaustion. Mix with shade if possible and don’t be stingy with the all-day sun cream!

sun protection for roofers


Protecting your eyesight and allowing you to see clearly, sunglasses are another important summer measure for builders and roofers. Being able to see properly is vital when using power tools in bright sunlight!

Without straining your eyes or squinting, you’ll find your eyesight doesn’t deteriorate as quickly with age.

Whatever your trade, you need to think about the most durable sunglasses for your work environment.

For example, Polycarbonate and Trivex lenses are more impact-resistant than both glass and plastic. You can also get added scratch-resistant coating.


Just like sunglasses, hats keep the sun out of your eyes. That means less squinting and better visibility on the job site. For the best sun protection, you’ll need a hat that shades your neck as well as your face.

Sun protection levels from sun hats are somewhat varied. As a builder or roofer, you’ll have found that hard hats offer some shading as well as protection. The peak at the front of most available safety helmets provides some shading for your eyes.

There are also options for hi-vis neck capes that you can attach to hard hats and further protect against the sun.

sun protection measures


This can be a lot harder if you’re working outside on a job. But getting some shade is arguably the best barrier between the sun and you.

The hottest times of the day are usually between 11am and 3pm. Making sure to take a decent lunch break gives a good opportunity to get out of the sun and into the shade. That is the time when UV penetration is also strongest and is most damaging for your skin.

As a builder or roofer, you can never rely on shade alone though. Difficulties of the job and outdoor environment mean you need to combine shade with other sun protection measures.

What do you need to do as an employer?

The duty of care to your staff extends to providing protection from the sun. That includes giving out the 5 sun protection measures to employees where possible.

As a trade business owner, it is important to give regular reminders to employees about sun safety.

You should also offer specific sun protection training. As a building or roofing business, you will need to ensure staff are aware of the consequences of being in the sun for extended periods without protection.

Guidance from the Federation of Master Builders reminds building employers to have good sun safety policies in place.

It is important to do what you can for your employees. Skin cancer that has been caused by sun exposure at work can lead to legal action if people can prove the business has not acted correctly.

UK employers are required by law to ensure workers are not harmed or injured at work. That extends to helping prevent skin cancer for employees who work outside.

Key takeaways

  • You need to stay safe in the summer sun
  • Sun protection measures help you avoid heat exhaustion, sunburn, premature ageing and reduce skin cancer risk
  • Combine the 5 main methods – sun cream, clothing, sunglasses, hats and shade
  • Trade businesses should provide protection where possible

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*Year runs from April 21’ to March 22’. Spend based on 12,505 members. Discounts differ depending on the partner. Products range from low value items to high value items. Total amount spent on Selco is estimated at £42,380,838 by 7,298 members and based on average savings per member from 2020/21. 10% discount. Some exclusions will apply on products.

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