Keep it cool this summer

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.

Two construction workers having a cool drink

UV radiation causes 95 per cent 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 or for your body to overheat. It is very important that your body temperature stays in the range of 36.1 – 37.8°C, or you risk developing heat-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 judgement. 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.

Register and listen to this webinar to learn about the risks that outdoor workers are exposed to and how employers can manage these risks, with the Small Business rebate available to eligible participants.

You can also tune into this webinar to discover the top 10 ways to manage sun exposure and how to check your own skin.

This video provides handy hints about managing the risks from working in extreme heat.

More information is found on the following web pages:

Other sun safety resources are available from:

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