Workers say sun smart policies 'over the top' (+poll)

By Genevieve Helliwell


Outdoor workers are having to wear long pants and shirts to protect them from the sun but one Bay roofer says some sun smart policies are "over the top".

Julian Quellin, of Mount Maunganui-based Custom Roof, said some businesses were too extreme in making staff to wear long-sleeved shirts and full-length trousers to be sun safe.

"I do think some are a bit over the top. Long sleeves and long pants are restrictive and counter-productive, particularly in our line of work," he told the Bay of Plenty Times.

"And the fact that it's so hot at the moment, I don't think it's necessary." Mr Quellin's workers wear a staff uniform and are encouraged to be sun smart and keep hydrated. "We provide suntan lotion and Steel and Tube have provided us with hats through Thermacraft and all the hats are wide-brimmed.

"It's important to be sun smart because our guys are out there getting baked and we need to do what we can to keep them protected from the sun."

Mount Maunganui Roofing gives employees sunblock, hats and sunglasses, part-owner Rex Olsen said. "They slip, slop, slap and fry in this industry. It's just the nature of the job," he said.

"It's not just the sun beating down from the sky but there's a lot of reflection off the roofs as well."

The business adopted a sun smart policy five years ago.

Mr Olsen said he enjoyed the sun, got his skin checked every year and had the occasional spot cut out.

In Matua this week, a team of Transfield Services workers installing ultra-fast broadband wore "long, longs" to protect them from the sun.

Transfield Tauranga project manager Rory Aitken said company rules required Transfield employees and sub-contractors to wear long pants and a long-sleeved top.

Mr Aitken said he had not heard of anyone suffering heat-related illnesses. The ultra-fast fibre roll-out was expected to take another three years.

Contractors working on the Tauranga Eastern Link project have adopted similar rules. Site visitors must also wear long-sleeved shirts and pants.

City council contractors had to abide by the sun smart policies of their own employer.

Employers must have systems to identify new and existing hazards to employees and take all practicable steps to protect them from harm, according to the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992.

The ministry enforced the law through improvement notices and prohibition notices.

Workers at risk

Agricultural, farming and horticultural workers

Building and construction workers

Council workers

Dockyard, port and harbour workers

Fisheries workers

Forestry and logging workers

Labour hire company workers

Landscape and gardening workers

Mining and earth resources workers

Outdoor events workers

Physical education teachers and outdoor sports coaches

Police and traffic officers

Postal workers

Road workers


Swimming pool and beach lifeguards

Taxi, bus and truck drivers and delivery and courier service workers

Telecommunications and utilities workers.

* Source Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment

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- Bay of Plenty Times

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