Sun Protection in German Outdoor Workers: Differences by Sex and Job-Related Characteristics

Ann Work Expo Health. 2023 Jun 6;67(5):622-636. doi: 10.1093/annweh/wxad014.


Background: Ultraviolet (UV) exposure during outdoor work increases the risk of developing skin cancer. Therefore, the uptake of recommended sun protection behaviors is important to prevent UV-related skin damage in the population of outdoor workers. To develop targeted prevention campaigns, information on the use of sun protection behaviors in different industries is needed.

Methods: A total of 486 outdoor workers were surveyed on the use of several sun protection measures as part of the 7th wave of the National Cancer Aid Monitoring. Furthermore, details on job-related characteristics, sociodemographics, and skin type were assessed. Descriptive analyses stratified by sex were conducted.

Results: In general, use of sun protection was insufficient (e.g. 38.4% used sunscreen on the face). Sun protection behavior differed between female and male outdoor workers with females being more likely to use sunscreen and males being more likely to wear sun protective clothes and headgear. For male outdoor workers, we revealed several associations with job-related characteristics. For instance, those who were employed full time were more likely to wear sun protective clothes (e.g. shoulder-covering shirt: 87.1% versus 50.0%, P < 0.001).

Discussion: We identified deficits in sun protection behavior in outdoor workers and differences by sex- and job-related characteristics. These differences offer starting points for targeted prevention measures. In addition, the findings may inspire qualitative research.

Keywords: Germany; UV exposure; UV radiation; behavior; employee; outdoor work; sun protection; sun safety; sunburn; sunscreen.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Occupational Exposure* / prevention & control
  • Protective Clothing
  • Skin Neoplasms* / prevention & control
  • Sunscreening Agents / therapeutic use
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Ultraviolet Rays / adverse effects


  • Sunscreening Agents