Australia experiences a wide range of temperatures and rainfall throughout the year but is particularly known for its scorching sun and heat in the summer months.
With a high number of outdoor workers spending their days in our hot summer sun they are at a higher than average risk of skin cancer and other forms of sun damage.
In fact, Cancer Council Australia statistics show that outdoor workers are exposed to five to 10 times more sun than indoor workers, which means they need to be adequately protected.
Slater and Gordon sees many cases where workers sustain an injury because they weren’t protected from harsh weather conditions.
Sunburn, cramps and mild dehydration are common side effects of getting too much sun, but there are also some more serious consequences to prolonged exposure.
In some very rare and severe situations a worker could suffer heat stroke leading to permanent brain damage, organ failure and even death, so the power of the summer sun should never be underestimated.
Incidents of prolonged exposure can have a big impact on someone’s livelihood, and that’s why it’s so important for employers to ensure this kind of injury doesn’t happen.
It is the duty of care of all employers to make sure their staff are working in a safe environment with protective gear and access to plenty of water and shade where possible.
I urge outdoor workers to protect themselves against the summer weather. Cooperate with your workplace’s sun protection program; be sure to stay hydrated; and wear suncream, hats and other sun-protective work clothing provided by your employer.
Employers can download the Skin cancer and outdoor work: A guide for employers booklet, from the Cancer Council.