OSHA requirements are set by statute, standards and regulations. Our interpretation letters explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances, but they cannot create additional employer obligations. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. Note that our enforcement guidance may be affected by changes to OSHA rules. Also, from time to time we update our guidance in response to new information. To keep apprised of such developments, you can consult OSHA's website at https://www.osha.gov.

April 16, 1998

Ms. Pauline Wright
7 Portland Road
Bishop Stortford, Herts CM23 3SL
United Kingdom

Dear Ms. Wright:

This is in response to your fax of March 11, 1998, requesting information on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA's) policy on skin cancer as a risk to outdoor workers. Your letter asked several questions on regulatory requirements, public education and employer attitudes towards this issue. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration does address worker exposure to the sun's radiation indirectly under our 29 Code of Federal Regulations 1910.132(a) pertaining to personal protective equipment. Employers are to use effective forms of protection such as wide-brim hats and long sleeve clothing. In situations where the only effective means of protection is sun screen, then it too may be used.

We also have guidelines against heat stress, but these requirements were designed for very hot indoor environments such as foundries, laundries and bakeries -- to name a few [(see attached)].

As far as the other questions you asked, the government agency within the U.S. which may be able to provide further information is the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH):

[National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)

Hubert H. Humphrey Bldg.
200 Independence Ave., SW
Room 715H
Washington, DC 20201
Phone: (202) 401-6997 or Toll Free 1-800-356-4674]

This agency is the occupational research arm for OSHA and may have the type of information you seek.

I hope this clarifies OSHA's position on this issue. Thank you for your interest in safety and health.


Melody Sands, Director
[Office of Health Enforcement]

[Corrected 02/27/2012. Note: Additional information on Heat Stress, including the referenced Fact Sheet, is available through OSHA's Heat Stress Technical Links Page.]