The Australian Work Exposure Study: Carcinogen Exposure in the Agriculture Industry, conducted by Safe Work Australia, found 99% of agriculture workers were exposed to UV radiation, yet only 10% were considered to be adequately protected with the use of shade, clothing, a hat and sunscreen.
Tips to reduce UV exposure
- Identify any photosensitising substances and be mindful of these.
- Consider different UV reflective surfaces around the workplace (e.g. soil and clay reflect more UV than grass).
- Plan work so that outdoor tasks are scheduled earlier in the morning or later in the day to avoid peak UV periods.
- Take breaks indoors or in the shade.
- Move jobs indoors or into shaded areas where possible.
- Erect temporary shade wherever possible.
- Wear a broad-brim hat that shades your face, neck and ears.
- Wear a loose-fitting shirt with a collar and longer sleeves and long trousers made from UFP50+ material. Choose one made from breathable fabric (e.g. cotton) to allow good ventilation.
- Wear gloves to protect the back of your hands.
- Apply SPF50+ broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen every two hours or more frequently if perspiring. Try a non-greasy formula so you can keep a grip on your tools. Also consider applying SPF30 (or higher) lip balm.
- Keep sunscreen in your lunch cooler so it is stored below 30 degrees as recommended. It will also be cool to apply on hot days. Check the expiry date.
- Wear wrap-around sunglasses (AS/NZS 1067 or with an EPF of 9 or 10).
- Consider window tinting for the side windows of vehicles to help reduce UV.
Common substances that cause photosensitivity
- Bind weed
- St John's wort
Source: Safe Work Australia, 2019, Guide on Exposure to Solar Ultraviolet radiation (UVR)
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