Safety Alert 104 – Working Safely in the Sun and Heat

Did you know?

In Australia, a major heatwave can cause more deaths than bushfire, cyclones, earthquakes, floods, and severe storms combined.

UV exposure risk

Australia has some of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world. It is estimated that at least two in every three Australians will be affected by skin cancer before the age of 70.
It is estimated that outdoor workers receive five to 10 times more UV exposure in a year than indoor workers. As exposure increases, the risk of developing skin cancer also increases.

Cancer Council Australia estimates that approximately 200 melanomas and 34,000 non-melanoma skin cancers per year are caused by occupational exposure.
Heat-related illnesses

As we head into Summer, the risk of heat-related illness increases. Electrical work is often carried out in the roof space and other poorly ventilated spaces, where the heat is super-charged and poses a risk for workers that needs to be managed carefully.

How do I reduce the risk of heat-related illnesses?

Here are some easy steps to help control risks and protect yourself when working in a high temperature environment.

  • Where possible, adjust your work times to the coolest parts of the day.
  • Stay hydrated. Best practice is to drink 200 ml for every 15-20 minutes that you’re working in the heat. Drink cool water (not ice-cold water) and avoid sugary drinks and caffeine. Click here to view a chart of how your urine colour can reflect your hydration level.
  • Take regular breaks and stay out of the heat as much as practical.
  • Keep your space cool with circulating air, where possible.
  • Keep an eye on your colleagues, sometimes it’s easier to see the effect of dehydration on someone else, rather than feel it for yourself.
  • Ensure you know the signs of the different stages of heat-related illness and respond appropriately if you are experiencing the symptoms of heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

How can I reduce the risk of UV exposure?

When it comes to reducing the risk of UV exposure, we need to think UV rather than heat – you can’t feel or see UV in the same way as you can see the sun and feel the warmth. That is why you need to refer to the UV index for your work location every day, and plan accordingly.

An easy way to check the UV index in your area of work are via Cancer Council’s free SunSmart app or the BOM Weather app.

How to protect yourself

  • SLIP on sun-protective clothing
    • Wear your supplied long & long uniform. The shirts supplied by EGT are UPF 50+ and are made of 100% cotton and are vented to keep you as cool as possible.
    • Ensure you are wearing your uniform correctly. That means sleaves down and always buttoned.
  • SLOP on SPF30+ broad-spectrum sunscreen
    • Check the expiry date before applying your sunscreen.
    • Re-apply sunscreen every 2 hours and remember you can still be exposed to UV in the shade.
  • SLAP on a hat
    • A wide brim hat is the best choice if you are working outdoors).
    • A cap is not recommended for outdoor use as it doesn’t cover your neck or ears. If you choose to wear a cap, wear it correctly (i.e. not backwards).
    • If you are required to wear a hard hat, use a brim.
  • SEEK shade
    • Take regular breaks in the shade.
    • Plan to work outdoors during the lowest UV rating times, and avoid working outside when the UV is at its peak, where practical.
  • SLIDE on sunglasses
    • Where practical, wear sunglasses or tinted safety glasses when working outdoors in the sunlight.

Don’t forget to ask your Field Officer for your sun-related PPE

EGT provides apprentices with:

  • Sunscreen - SPF50+ broad spectrum, 4 hour water-resistant and nanoparticle free.
  • Hats - caps, wide brim hats and hard hat brims.
  • Tinted safety glasses.

If you need any of the above, ask your Field Officer or pop into the EGT office.

Further Information

• EGT Policies – Apprentice Uniform & PPE Policy and Risk Assessment Policy.
• External - SunsmartCancer Council and Safe Work Australia.

For further information regarding this Safety Alert, please contact EGT on (08) 6241 6100 or speak with your Field Officer.

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