Tips for working safely in the sun


Sunlight is very good for us. After all, a sunny day is always so much better than a sky full of grey clouds. Sunlight makes us happy and cheerful and it also helps our bodies to produce vitamin D – a vitamin that we need for strong bones and teeth, for our immune system, and for healthy muscles.

The side-effects of too much sun

However, as with many things in life, too much sun isn’t good for us, either. We all know the risks of too much sun exposure. Skin cancer is a significant risk that must not be underestimated: around 35,000 people are diagnosed with skin cancer in the Netherlands every year.

Sunlight can also damage the eyes: an excessive amount of ultraviolet and IR (invisible infrared) radiation can cause cataracts. Cataracts cloud the lens of the eye and, if left untreated, can impair eyesight.

And don’t forget sunstroke. This makes you feel sick, you develop a headache, your body temperature rises above 40 degrees, and you can be really quite ill for a few days.

Heat and the strength of the sun – watch out for both

When you’re out working in the sun, you need to take into account the heat as well as the strength of the sun (the UV index). Since the ozone layer has become thinner, much more UV radiation reaches our earth. This UV radiation is measured using the UV index. The UV index isn’t always the same and can be just as high, or even higher, on a cloudy day as on a bright, sunny day.

The Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI) reports the UV index every day. If it is 7 or higher, it is advisable to take extra protective measures. If the UV index is 8, your skin can burn within just ten minutes.

Tips for working safely in the sun

Everyone who spends much of their time working outside has to be prepared for the heat and the sun. Gardeners, road workers, agricultural and horticultural workers, etc. work outside a lot and therefore are a risk group.

What can you do to work safely outside in the sun?

  • Wear protective clothing made from tightly woven fabrics with long sleeves and trouser legs.
  • Special UV-resistant clothing is also available. For comparison: a plain white cotton T-shirt has only a UV protection factor of 15.
  • Protect your head by wearing a hat or a cap with a flap at the neck to cover your neck as well.
  • If you wear a helmet, make sure you also have a neck flap.
  • Apply sunscreen regularly! Make sure you use a sunscreen with a high sun protection factor – at least 30 SPF. Here, ‘regularly’ means every two hours, and even more often if you sweat a lot. Some sunscreen products are made specifically for people who move around and sweat a lot. Think about whether such a sunscreen might also be a good option for you.
  • Protect your eyes by wearing UV-absorbing sunglasses.
  • Try to avoid being in the sun between 12 noon and 3:00 PM and adjust your working hours accordingly.

Keep drinking!

Dehydration is one of the main causes of sunstroke. So make sure you drink plenty and regularly!

When it’s tropical outside, people tend to want to drink ice-cold drinks. But it’s actually much better to drink something warm. When you drink warm drinks, your body automatically cools you down again. If you drink something cold, your body actually warms you up again – making you feel even hotter.

Avoid sunstroke:

  • Drink plenty
  • If you sweat a lot, also drink salty drinks such as a cup of broth or sport water with added salt.
  • And, if you can, take a refreshing shower now and again.

Take care of yourself, even in the sun, and – above all – enjoy working outside!


Ticks look like little spiders. When a tick bites you, it swells up and looks like a dark red ball. Once it’s full of blood, it can measure up to 1 centimetre in diameter. Ticks can transmit Lyme disease.

What can you do to reduce the risk of a tick bite?

Ticks can be found everywhere, especially in tall grass and bushes and scrubs. They can also be found on pets, game, birds, and corpses. People tend to get bitten most often in the period between March and October.

If you work in high-risk environments for tick bites, make sure you wear skin-covering clothing that fits closely at the wrists, neck, waist, and ankles, and tuck your trousers legs into your socks. If necessary, spray your socks, shoes, and trousers with an insect repellent containing DEET and also lubricate uncovered skin with an insect repellent containing DEET.

Even if you take all these precautions, it’s important that you check yourself for tick bites every day.

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