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Sun Protection for Construction Workers

January 27, 2016 0 Comments

Being right smack in the middle of the Australian summer, sun protection isn’t just a consideration of work comfort, it is a site safety issue.

Did you know that Australia has the highest incidence of skin cancer in the world? And some very sobering statistics are that at least 1 in every 2 Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer in their lifetime.

Sun Protection for Construction Workers

Sun Protection is a must on a Construction Site

Being involved in the Civil Construction Industry, workers are exposed to UV radiation from direct sunlight for many hours over long periods of time. And to add to the mix, workers receive a boost of UV rays as they are reflected from nearby surfaces such as concrete, metal, glass, sand and water!

Over exposure to UV radiation can have a negative impact on skin cells. The damage can manifest itself as skin cancer – often a fatal disease. It is desperately important that employers assess the risk of exposure to their workers, and implement sun protection on the job.

Let’s look at some methods of sun protection:

Clever Work Times

Do your best to avoid outdoor work during the UV peak of the day. These times are generally 11am to 3pm during the months of September to April, and 10am to 2pm from May to August. If it isn’t possible due to time schedules, then consider rotating rosters – by sharing outdoor and indoor work to cut down on an individual’s exposure to the sun.

Attempt to have workers perform outdoor tasks early morning or late in the afternoon.

Provide Shade

A simple solution for some work is to simply move it undercover. If this isn’t possible, can you provide some type of shade for your workers? If natural shade (trees) or current structural shade (existing buildings) isn’t available, can you erect something? Some shade devices currently used with good results are awnings and shade umbrellas.

Remember to take into account how close reflective surfaces (eg. concrete and metal) are, and if you can create a barrier between those surfaces and the workers.

Appropriate Clothing

Provide appropriate protective clothing that fulfills the necessary UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor). Aim to cover as much skin as possible, and include:

  • long sleeved shirts with collars,
  • long pants,
  • hats,
  • sunglasses

Also take into account the weave of the fabric and the colour. For example, did you know that darker coloured fabric absorbs more UV radiation than lighter colours?

Apply Sunscreen

It is vital that you know that sunscreen does not block out all UV radiation. It simply provides a level of protection, and should be used in combination with the above methods of sun protection.

Sunscreen is absorbed by the skin, so it needs to be reapplied regularly.

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