Outdoor workers are exposed to high levels of ultraviolet (UV) radiation for long periods and this increases skin cancer risk. Everyone needs sun protection, but people with fair skin burn easily and are more at risk.
Ultraviolet (UV) radiation info:
Under the Health and Safety Work Act (HSWA) 2015, employers are responsible for not puttingworkers at risk from UV radiation.If it is identified that UV could be a hazard, employers must take steps to deal with this risk.
Employees who spend all or partof their day outdoors have a higher risk of skin cancer because they spend more time exposed to harmful UV radiation. The best way to ensure you are protecting your employees from harmful UV is to adopt a SunSmart workplace policy. The Cancer Society have created asample policy that you can adapt to suit your workplace.
Tips for employers to provide a SunSmart workplace:
It’s also good to encourage workers to be SunSmart when they head outside to take a break, walk to a meeting, or get exercise.
Regularly check UV levels
As you cannot see or feel UV radiation, managing the risk of UV radiation requires regularly checking UV levels – even on a cloudy or cold day.
The level (intensity) of UV radiation is measured by the ultraviolet index (UVI). The higher the UVI number, the greater the potential for damage to the skin and eyes.When theUVI is 3 or abovethrough the course of any day, we need to be SunSmart andSlip, Slop, Slap and Wrap.If the UVI is low (1-2), this generally means it’s safe to be outdoors unprotected unless you spend a lot of time outdoors.
What is solar UV radiation?
Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is a type of radiation that is given off by the sun and some artificial sources. This radiation can damage the genetic material (DNA) of skin cells, causing harm to a person. UV radiation cannot be seen or felt; therefore, workers may be exposed to harmful radiation without knowing.
There are three types of UV rays:
How can solar UV radiation harm workers?
Over-exposure to UV radiation is a serious health risk for workers, particularly those who regularly work outdoors. This is because they are exposed to UV radiation more frequently and for longer periods of time than people working indoors.
UV radiation can harm a worker in several ways:
Sunburn is a type of radiation burn. The symptoms of sunburn show that the body is attempting to protect and repair damage to the skin. In some instances, it may take only 10 minutes of UV radiation exposure for a serious burn to occur. Symptoms of sunburn usually peak 8-12 hours after exposure. Symptoms can include:
Skin cancer is the abnormal growth of skin cells. It is the most serious side effect of UV radiation exposure. If left untreated, skin cancer can spread throughout the body, which can be fatal.
Skin cancer occurs when the body is unable to repair the damage to the skin cell. The skin cells begin to grow in an abnormal way, and over time can become cancerous. The amount of UV radiation exposure needed to cause skin cancer is different for each person, but the likelihood of harm increases the more a person is exposed to the sun.
Exposure to UV radiation can cause serious harm to the eyes which may result in permanent damage. Symptoms of eye damage from UV radiation can be painful and may impair vision; this can affect a worker’s ability to work safely.
Photokeratitis and photoconjunctivitis
Pterygium and pinguecula
Tax deduction for sun protection gear
If you are required to work in the sun, your employer may be able to claim a tax deduction on sun protection items such as sunscreen and other personal protective equipment (PPE). ContactInland Revenue Te Tari Taake