Workers urged to be vigilant about sun protection

workersAS temperatures start to soar, managers and supervisors of outdoor workers are being urged to assess if their ‘sun safe’ gear meets Australian safety standards.
Employees operating in direct sunlight are exposed to risks of skin cancer, sun burn, heat exhaustion or accidents as a result of fatigue.
SAI Global, which developed Australia’s most recognised certification in the Five Ticks StandardsMark, warned that many ‘sun safe’ items on the market failed to meet Australian safety standards – such as UV protective clothing, shade cloth and sunglasses – which potentially put employees at risk.
SAI Global stated that while a long-sleeved shirt may carry a UV protection factor label, for instance, it may not have the ability to absorb UV at the level required for optimal protection. Similarly, an uncertified pair of tinted safety glasses may be labelled with UV protection, but they may not protect against potential long-term health issues such as cataracts, retina degeneration or cancer.
Employees opting to wear fashion items in place of certified protection equipment suitable for their working conditions were also at risk.
“A pair of fashion sunnies may protect eyes from the sun and glare however only certified safety sunnies are guaranteed to keep you safe from harmful UV or from debris and flying particles when you’re on a work site,” SAI Global team leader of Health and Safety, Product Services Richard Donarski said.
“Similarly a non UV rated singlet or top may stop a worker from overheating, but there is the risk of UV skin damage and sunburn.”
Using products that displayed a certification mark such as the Five Ticks StandardsMark provided peace-of-mind that the item had been manufactured according to an Australian safety standard. SAI Global partners with local and overseas manufacturers to ensure sun safe and heat safe products comply with Australian and international quality and safety standards.
Mr Donarski’s safety tips for outdoor workers this summer were to choose certified protective products rather than fashion items; seek as much shade as possible; wear correct clothing, including a broad-brimmed hat; take regular breaks; stay hydrated; and apply sunscreen.