Last week we responded to a recent national heat study calling for laws to make all outdoor workers down tools once the temperature hits 37°C.
Today we’re adding to our tips for chilling on site with sunscreen tips from an expert dermatologist at Melanoma Institute Australia (MIA).
Because your personal safety and the safety of others on site must be a priority.
We’ve been banging on about tradies being sun smart and for good reason: Every 6 hours an Australian dies of melanoma. If you and your team are spending a lot of time in the sun you need to be WHS aware and sun smart.
Here’s what MIA’s Dermatologist Associate Professor Pascale Guitera has to say on sunscreen.
Why is it important to wear sunscreen every day?
“Ultraviolet (UV) sun damage accumulates on an everyday basis and even if you have no serious sunburns, over a long period of time it ages the skin, creates sunspots, and eventually skin cancers and melanoma can develop. UV radiation is damaging skin cells – it causes mutations in your DNA. Sunscreen acts as a barrier, reducing the amount of UV radiation that reaches your cells”.
Do you need to wear sunscreen even when the sun isn’t out?
“Even on cool or cloudy days or even at the snow, the UV index can still be quite high. Be aware of the daily UV index and protect yourself with sunscreen and other forms of sun protection such as seeking shade whenever possible and wearing protective clothes like hats, long sleeves and sunglasses”.
Does it matter how much sunscreen you put on?
“Yes, it certainly does. As a guide, you need a shot glass full of sunscreen to cover your whole body and face”.
Do you need sunscreen every day if you work inside?
“Applying sunscreen every day is a good habit to get into whether you work in an office or outside in the elements. Working outside you need to be reapplying sunscreen every few hours. If you work inside, remember the most intense UV radiation is around midday so if you plan on going out at lunchtime or when you finish work in the afternoons, you should reapply your sunscreen. The 3pm sun is still fierce in Australia”.
What are the effects of not wearing sunscreen every day?
“You will end up with chronic sun damage and everything that goes with it: wrinkles, sunspots and skin cancers including potential melanomas. Sadly the areas that are chronically sun damaged are typically the nose, scalp and ears; these are not the places you want scars from surgery”.
Am I covered the whole day when I apply sun protection in the morning?
Absolutely not! The active ingredients in sunscreen break down quite quickly so a single application in the morning will never be enough to last the whole day. Sunscreen should be applied liberally and regularly. You need to reapply throughout the day, aim for every two hours as a rule.
This weekend and throughout the month thousands of people across Australia are taking action against melanoma with Melanoma March with a goal to raise significant funds for a national research project to find a cure for melanoma.