Information and resources to assist schools meeting their duty of care obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (Vic) in relation to Sun Protection.
Yes, under the duty of care obligation that a school has to its students and under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (Vic).
As part of their duty of care, schools are required to protect students and staff from any known harms, including ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Schools are advised to develop and implement a UV or sun protection policy which ensures staff and students receive some sun exposure for vitamin D; while minimising the risk of skin cancer. Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (Vic), schools also have a duty of care to provide all employees with working environments that do not endanger their health and safety.
Schools should ensure they develop and implement a UV or sun protection policy in consultation with staff, students and parents which documents the measures in place to address the known risk of UV. Things to consider when drafting a policy:
- Rationale: Overexposure to UV during childhood and adolescence is a major factor in determining future skin cancer risk. Melanoma is the most common cancer in young Australians aged 13-24 years.
- A combination of sun protection measures (clothing, sunscreen, hats, shade and sunglasses) should be used whenever UV levels are 3 or above. This is typically from September to the end of April in Victoria.
- Ensure sufficient shade (natural or built) is available, particularly in areas where students gather for lunch, play, outdoor learning, assembly and sport. Ensure the school uniform/dress code includes covering clothing and a sun protective hat (e.g wide brimmed or bucket style) during peak UV months (September – April).
- Encourage the application of SPF 30 (or higher) broad spectrum, water-resistant, sunscreen before outdoor activities.
- Where practical, encourage students and staff to wear close-fitting, wrap-around sunglasses that meet the Australian Standard 1067:2016 (Sunglasses: Category 2, 3 or 4)
- Implement sun protection measures at all excursions, camps, sports carnivals and outdoor activities held during the peak UV months (September – April).
- As part of OH&S risk control and role-modelling, encourage all staff and visitors to follow sun protection measures during peak UV months (September – April).
You could be in breach of your duty of care obligations as well as the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (Vic).
- Vic DET: School Policy and Advisory Guide – UV and Sun Protection
- Vic DET: Safety Guidelines for Education Outdoors
- SunSmart: Early Childhood and Primary Schools
- SunSmart: Secondary Schools
- SunSmart: SunSmart Sample Early Childhood and Primary School Policies
- Worksafe Victoria: Sun Protection
- WorkSafe Victoria: Collapse of Fabric Shade Sail Support Structures