19 MarSun safety measures in Early Childhood Education and Care services

Posted on 19 Mar 2024

Australia’s abundant sunshine is both a blessing and a potential hazard, particularly for young children. The sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation, while a source of warmth and light, poses significant risks, including sunburn, skin and eye damage, and an increased likelihood of developing skin cancer. Unfortunately, Australia grapples with one of the world’s highest rates of skin cancer, a stark reality demanding vigilant sun protection measures, especially for young children. 

Children up to the age of four are particularly vulnerable to UV damage due to their lower levels of melanin, the skin pigment that offers some protection against the sun, and a thinner stratum corneum—the skin’s outermost layer. The impact of UV damage during childhood and adolescence isn’t merely immediate; it also heightens the risk of skin cancer later in life. Therefore, safeguarding them from excessive UV exposure during their formative years is paramount. 

The recommended approach, endorsed by the Cancer Council, advocates that combination of various sun protection measures. Hats, clothing that covers the skin, sunscreen, seeking shade, and wearing sunglasses—these tactics form a robust defence against UV radiation. It’s advised to employ these measures whenever UV levels reach three or higher during the daily sun protection times, ensuring continuous protection. 

Importantly, the legal framework in Australia reinforces the imperative for sun safety, especially within Early Childhood Education and Care service. Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004, employers are mandated to provide a safe and healthy environment for all individuals accessing their facilities or programs. This requirement extends to the meticulous care and protection of children against potential hazards, including excessive sun exposure. 

The Education and Care National Law and Regulations underscores the fundamental priority of prioritising the health, safety, and welfare of children. This legislation unequivocally demands protecting children from any conceivable harm or hazard, including the dangers associated with excessive UV radiation. 

Implementing these measures doesn’t merely fulfil legal obligations but significantly contributes to fostering a culture of sun safety and responsible care within childcare settings. It’s a collective responsibility shared by early childhood teacher, educators, and administrators to ensure the wellbeing of all children at their service. 

As we enjoy Australia’s sunshine, let’s also remain aware of its potential risks, particularly to our children. By adopting and adhering to recommended sun protection measures, not only do we comply with legal mandates, but we also pave the way for a healthier, safer future for the next generation. 

Does your service have an up-to-date Sun Protection policy?   

ELAA’s PolicyWorks catalogue provides easy to use templates to assist early childhood education and care services to contextualise and update policies to meet legislative, regulatory and funding requirements.  

To subscribe to our PolicyWorks Catalogue Subscription – CLICK HERE.

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