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Manage exposure to solar ultraviolet radiation (UVR)

Date: 
Tuesday, 10 March, 2020 - 16:15
Category: 
Policy & legislation
Location: 
National News

A guide has recently been published targeting sun safety, particularly solar ultraviolet radiation (UVR), which can be deceptive because it cannot be seen or felt, does not depend on temperature, and can be high even on cool and cloudy days.

The Safe Work Australia guide provides practical advice on managing risks associated with exposure to UVR and information on solar UVR exposure control measures to help eliminate or minimise worker exposure.

It includes tips on how to implement a sun protection program at your workplace.

The guide will particularly benefit workers who spend all or part of the day outdoors and face the risk of skin cancer and eye issues.

The risk of exposure to solar UVR may not be obvious for some workers such as vehicle drivers, while others such as physical education teachers may be in and out of the sun during the day so exposure may be intermittent. The accumulated exposure creates a risk to their health and safety.

While the sun is the main source of UVR, it is not the only source. UVR also comes from phototherapy; solariums; fluorescent, neon and halogen lighting; industrial arc welding; UVR lamps; 'black lights'; germicidal UVR lamps; and UV lasers.

Solar UVR is the best natural source of vitamin D which in small amounts is essential for good health, but:

  • Can cause damage to living organisms
  • Is carcinogenic to humans
  • Cannot be seen or felt
  • Does not depend on temperature
  • Can be high even on cool and cloudy days
  • Can pass through clouds
  • Can pass through loosely woven material
  • Can bounce off reflective surfaces like metal, concrete, water and snow.