Australia has the highest incidence of Skin cancer in the world, and 2 out of 3 Australians are likely to develop Skin Cancer before the age of 70 Harsh UV rays in sunlight on a hot sunny day and sometimes even on overcast and cooler days, can cause skin to burn in just 12 minutes. According to BOM (The Bureau of Meteorology) UV radiation in Australia is at its peak during the hot summer months, and is typically very high to extreme and outdoor workers are at some of the highest risk for sun damage, as they can spend several hours a day working under the sun. Effective risk assessments and control measures to reduce the risk of exposure for workers can help control a largely preventable disease like Skin Cancer.
As always prevention of exposure to risk is the best possible solution, for e.g – scheduling work to avoid highest UV exposure times of the day, or conducting work indoors when possible. Barring prevention, employers can engineer solutions like kiosks or awnings and build shelters that provide shade, allowing workers to stay cool and take frequent breaks.
Often however high UV exposure without shade is unavoidable and in such cases barriers between the skin and UV rays are considered some of the most effective control measures. PPE barriers offering shade like a wide brim hat to cover face neck and ears are amongst the standard protective measures recommended by the Skin Cancer Council, and the Department of Health. However, Hard Hats are mandatory and the only allowed head protection for majority of outdoor and hazardous work sites. Incorporating sun protection into existing PPE such as prescribed Hard Hats is important for both employers and workers. Wide brims extending over 7cms, with a UV protection factor of 50+, with coverage for neck and ears that fit with hard hats but don’t compromise the safety functions is the solution recommended by Safe Work Australia.
Brims like the Ergodyne Chill-its 6660 brims, are designed to fit easily over any Hard Hat size and design, even those with attached hearing protection. This allows employers to complement their existing PPE quickly and cost-effectively. Polyester UV +50 treated fabric, extends over the neck and ear for full coverage, and bright Hi-Vis Lime and Orange colours offer superior visibility.