With summer just around the corner, it’s the perfect time to ensure that you are meeting your work health and safety obligations with a policy to protect your employees against solar ultraviolet radiation (UVR).
About Solar UVR
Solar UVR is composed of the three wavelengths: UVA, UVB and UVC. All of your employees who work outdoors need to understand how to protect themselves from solar UVR. It’s important that we remember that solar UVR protection is not just about applying sunscreen.
Where can UVR exposure occur?
Solar UVR can be scattered by air particles or reflected by ground surfaces such as metal, concrete and snow. A variety of factors affect the level of solar UVR. These include the elevation of the sun, amount of cloud cover, latitude and reflective surfaces. Solar UVR is measured on the UV Index, which ranges from zero to 20. A higher score on the UV index means that sun damage will occur faster so it’s a good idea to monitor UV Index levels throughout the day.
Limiting the risk of exposure
Anyone working outdoors should wear sunscreen at all times. When the UV Index reaches three or higher, employees should use additional sun protection. This can include protective clothing, hats, sunglasses and shade.
The risk for some workers may not be as obvious as it is for those working outdoors. For example, taxi, truck and delivery drivers all face increased risk of solar UVR exposure to their eyes. Tinting vehicle windows and providing sunglasses can help reduce the risk that accumulated exposure creates to employee health and safety.
For people working outdoors in extreme temperatures, the risk of heat-related illnesses must also be considered in a solar protection policy.
Use the following tips to reduce solar UVR exposure
- Supply maximum strength sunscreen to all employees working outdoors.
- Ensure employees have appropriate protective clothing, hats and sunglasses.
- Paint reflective surfaces.
- Provide shade and encourage workers to move to shaded areas.
- Ensure employees understand the risks of solar UVR exposure.
- Tint vehicle windows.
- Schedule outdoor tasks for early in the morning or late in the afternoon when UV Index levels are lower.
- Alert employees when UV Index levels are high.
Limiting the risk of exposure
Recovery Partners can help you to develop a Sun Smart Policy as well as train your employees to protect themselves from solar UVR.
Disclaimer – these articles are provided to supply general safety information to people responsible for OHS in their organisation. They are general in nature and do not substitute for legal and/or professional advice. We always suggest that organisations obtain information specific to their needs. Additional information can be found at www.workcover.nsw.au
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