One of the reasons southern European countries have siestas is to enable people who work outside to avoid the extreme heat in the middle of the day.
We might have to emulate them if we’re to heed suggestions from a University of Otago study into workers’ exposure to high UV radiation levels.
Recommendations include providing shade for workers and scheduling outside work to avoid the most dangerous times for sun exposure.
That’s not difficult for tasks which can be done in tractors, most of which now have air conditioned cabs. But it’s easier said than done for some farm tasks such as mustering, although from my observations most farm workers are pretty good at wearing hats with wide brims which protect their heads and necks.
The suns-sense message is timely for me because I had my bi-annual skin check yesterday – something I’ve been doing ever since the removal of a couple of skin cancers – fortunately the least dangerous basal cell carcinomas – a decade ago.
Since then I’ve been very careful about the slip, slop, slap message – slip on a shirt, slop on sunscreen and slap on a hat. But that won’t protect me from the damage done when I was young and spent long summer days at the river, coming home bright red to liberal applications of *Q-tol, the bright pink lotion which took the sting out of sun burn.
Then I spent two summers while a student as a pool attendant in Taupo, wandering round in skimpy shorts and a sleeveless t-shirt, almost as keen on acquiring a tan as earning money.
There was some excuse then as there was little information available about the risk of skin cancer from over exposure to sun. That’s certainly not the case now but fashion has yet to catch up with the health message because a tan is still regarded as attractive and healthy while pale is often coupled with pasty as a observation on someone who doesn’t look their best.
* I don’t remember seeing Q-tol for years – is that because they’ve discovered something in it we shouldn’t be exposed to or has it just been replace dby something more effective?