Home > Beat the heat at your workplace this summer: WorkCover NSW warns against excessive sun exposure

Beat the heat at your workplace this summer: WorkCover NSW warns against excessive sun exposure

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article image In the three years to July 2011, there were 433 claims for work-related skin cancer in NSW alone
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In this three part series, we turn to a reminder issued recently by WorkCover NSW regarding the warmer summer months, and the need for all regional businesses and workers to protect themselves when working in the sun to prevent fatigue.

General Manager of WorkCover's Work Health and Safety Division, John Watson, noted that Australia has one of the highest incidences of skin cancer in the world, so it is important for businesses to protect workers from ultra violet (UV) radiation in sunlight, and to minimise the hazards associated with working in hot and sunny environments.

The impact to business of skin cancer is substantial, with Mr Watson stating that in the three years to July 2011, there were 433 claims for work-related skin cancer, at a cost of $6.2 million to the NSW Workers Compensation Scheme.

"Workers can be exposed to UV radiation when working in the sun as well as in the shade or undercover due to reflection from surrounding surfaces, so it is important to wear sun protection in all outdoor conditions," he explained.

With the warmer summer months come Christmas, a period when many workers are under increased pressure to complete projects before the end of year shut down period. Coupled with long working hours in the sun, Mr Watson said that these pressures can increase the likelihood of fatigue-related injuries.

“Fatigue and heat-stress can affect a worker’s health, reducing their performance and productivity, and increasing the chance of a workplace injury through reduced ability to concentrate, recognise risks and communicate effectively," he added.

Mr Watson advised businesses to set realistic workloads and work schedules, while ensuring fair distribution of work and providing regular rest breaks.

In the second part of this series, we will continue to discuss the risks associated with excessive exposure to UV, highlighting a number of actions WorkCover NSW recommends all businesses should take to ensure their workers are protected. Click here to read on.

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