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Keep it cool this summer

Posted by SafeWork NSW on 19 December 2017

Working in direct sunlight or extreme heat exposes you to the risks of heat-related illness, as well as skin cancer, from ultra-violet (UV) radiation. Both can be fatal. 

UV radiation causes 95% of skin cancers in Australia. All skin types can be damaged by exposure to UV radiation. The damage is permanent and irreversible - and increases with each exposure. 

Roughly two in three Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer by the time they are 70 and over 750,000 are treated for non-melanoma skin cancers in Australia each year. 

Non-melanoma skin cancer is more common in men,. with almost double the incidence compared to women. in 2015, 2162 people died from skin cancer in Australia, 1467 from melanoma and 642 from non-melanoma skin cancers. 

During the summer months, it is easy to become dehydrated for for your body to overheat. It so very important that your body temperature stays in the range of 36.1 - 37.8°C, or you risk developing heart-related illness. 

Working in a hot environment can cause you to become fatigued and physically weak, as well as slow your reaction times and affect your judgment. Any of these increase your risk of injury, and you may begin to make errors, drop tools or stumble. 

You can reduce the risks from exposure to UV radiation or extreme heat by: 

  • providing an air - conditioned area for frequent rest breaks
  • providing air-conditioning and window tinting in work vehicles 
  • providing mechanical aids to reduce the need for strenuous physical work 
  • supplying lots of cool drinking water and encouraging workers to drink frequently
  • providing shade and shelter for outdoor workers
  • rotating tasks, to reduce exposure to UV radiation and extreme heat
  • scheduling work to cooler times of the day
  • using the SunSmart app to identify sun protection times for outdoor work
  • providing information, instruction, training and supervision
  • providing personal protective equipment, eg: for outdoor workers -SPF 30+ sunscreen, SPF 50+ clothing, long-sleeve shirts, broad-brimmed hats and the like.
Author: SafeWork NSW
Tags: Consumer Information

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