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Policy Background Information

Current scientific and anecdotal evidence suggests that overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation during childhood contributes to an increased risk to skin cancer throughout an individual’s lifetime (Cancer Council Australia, 2005, Cancer research UK, 2007) Preventing sunburn and overexposure to UV radiation assists in reducing the probability of skin cancer and further skin damage. Sun protection policies and procedures are a life long commitment to infants, young children and adults to reduce the incidents of skin cancer and eye damage (Cancer Council Australia, 2005a, Cancer Research UK, 2007) Every school has a duty of care to ensure that all persons1 are provided with a high level of sun protection during the hours of the service’s operation. It is understood by staff/carers, children and families that there is a shared responsibility between the service and other stakeholders that the SunSafe Protection Policy and procedures are accepted as a high priority. In meeting the service’s duty of care, it is a requirement under the Occupational Health & Safety Act that management and staff implement and endorse the service’s SunSafe Protection Policy, and ensure a level of protection to all persons who access the service’s facilities and/or programs.

1 Persons – is defined as children, parents, families, staff, carers, coordination unit staff, management, students and volunteers, regardless of age or gender, who access the child care service for any reason.

Occupational Health and Safety

Occupational Health and Safety legislation in the UK requires that employers provide and maintain workers within a safe working environment. Staff working all or part of the day outside should be protected from the suns UV rays. For example schools should:

  • Provide and maintain equipment (e.g. hats, sun cream, sun glasses, long sleeved shirts etc.) to protect workers from the sun.
  • Provide staff with access to information and training in the area of Sun Safety/ protection.
  • Set up systems to reduce the amount of time staff spend outside during peak times (11-3pm May – September) According to the law your employees have a responsibility to cooperate. For example if you provide appropriate sun protective equipment your employees are obliged to use it.
  • Legal obligations of schools in relation to SunSafe Legal obligations of schools and teachers to their pupils Schools and teachers owe a special duty of care to students due to their “special” relationship. They are responsible for safeguarding the health and safety of pupils (www.teachers.org.uk).

Teachers...

....owe their students a duty to take reasonable steps to protect them against risk of injury which the teacher can reasonably foresee. Since schools and teachers are required by law to take reasonable steps to protect their students from risk of injury which is reasonably foreseeable, ensuring that pupils are adequately protected from UV radiation can be included as part of this special duty of care. Unless pupils are adequately protected, a school out door event such as a sports day could expose students to a reasonably foreseeable risk of injury from UV radiation.

Useful guidance from the NUT