Safe Work Australia issues new solar UV radiation fact sheet

The following article is a news item provided for the benefit of the Workplace Health and Safety profession. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Institute of Health & Safety.
Sunday, 9 January, 2022 - 12:15
Policy & legislation
National News

Safe Work Australia has developed a fact sheet on the risks of solar ultraviolet radiation (UVR) exposure at work.

Raising awareness of the dangers of UVR for anyone who works outside is important, given the high rate of skin cancer in Australia.

Around two in three Australians will be diagnosed with some form of skin cancer before the age of 70.

Exposure to solar UVR is a risk for anyone who works outside, and Safe Work Australia said solar UVR is not only a hazard when working in direct sunlight. It can also be reflected off certain materials, such as concrete, metal, snow and sand, increasing the level of exposure.

The fact sheet contains information on identifying when UVR exposure may be a hazard, and ways to assess and manage the risks associated with exposure.

“You must do as much as you reasonably can to eliminate the risks associated with solar UVR exposure. For example, you can eliminate the risk by carrying out work indoors,” the fact sheet said.

If this is not possible, Safe Work Australia said you must minimise the risk through one or more of the following:

·       Substituting or replacing a hazard with a safer one (such as carrying out the work during the early morning and late afternoon when the risk of solar UVR exposure is lower)

·       Isolation by isolating or separating the risk from workers (for example, ensure work is carried out undercover or in a well-shaded area)

·       Engineering controls are physical control measures to minimise risk (for example, installing permanent shade structures to buildings and mobile plant, installing window tinting to mobile plant or vehicles, or altering a surface to be less reflective)