Most Australian employers don't protect workers from severe weather, but a local 'tradiepreneur' has found a clever workaround
According to a new report, almost one in five tradies called in sick to work during the last heatwave in December. With temperatures set to soar again this year, it's likely that even more tradies will feign illness to avoid the heat.
Why are tradies so keen to avoid working in the heat?
According to Liz King, Skin Cancer Prevention Manager at the Cancer Council NSW, two out of every three Australians may develop skin cancer over their lifetime.
"Tradies are at a higher risk of developing skin cancer due to prolonged exposure to the sun," explains Ms. King. "Men over 40 are likewise at higher risk; they are twice as likely as women of the same age to die from melanoma."
UV levels in NSW are high enough most of the year to damage unprotected skin, even on gloomy and chilly days. Due to these damages, Safe Work Australia encourages companies to adhere to certain guidelines to protect tradies from these harmful rays year-round.
Unions: Not every jobsite has all-worker protections
Liam O'Brien, assistant secretary of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, claims many workers are "often compelled to work in excessive temperatures." He described the situation as "totally unacceptable and quite hazardous."
"Your company is required to offer a safe and healthy workplace for you and your coworkers. This includes dealing with harsh weather conditions, such as heat," he pointed out. "If your employer refuses to let you leave work due to the heat, contact your union for assistance. You should never have to put your life on the line for corporate profit."
The Trade Shade offers a valuable solution
One startup has created a simple yet ingenious solution to address the issue. Sean Conneely, a tradie and proprietor of The Trade Shade, devised The Trade Shade Magnetic Umbrella Holder--a game-changing rain and sun accessory designed to keep as many Australian tradies safe from the elements as possible.
"I built a product that offers a quick to setup, cost-effective, and portable shading and element protection solution for both the everyday tradie and large corporations," Conneely remarked. "With a little luck and awareness, I'm hoping we can shade and protect tradies all across the country."
In addition to the countless research and surveys, Sean claims that his experiences as a tradie and his previous skin cancer scare motivated him to develop the product and launch his own company.
"Doctors detected a black mark on my back during a general checkup. I got it removed, and after that, I made it a habit to book in for a skin check once a year. It's worrisome that one-third of tradies have had skin cancer, and more than half of us will know someone who has been diagnosed with skin cancer," he stated.
Sean and his team have ambitious aspirations for both their product and the company. By mid-September 2022, they plan to release a square UV umbrella that has been specially designed for the Australian tradie. Paired with The Trade Shade Magnetic Umbrella Holder, the new umbrella will offer huge coverage, UV protection, and a squared design that allows tradies to use the umbrella when working close to buildings or walls. They have also teamed up with National Skin Cancer Centers in Australia to encourage tradies to book in for a skin check by running monthly prize pack giveaways for those who book in.
Conneely urges all businesses to take precautions and protect their employees from difficult conditions:
"If you're a business owner who cares about your employees and wants to be compliant when WorkSafe comes by, the Trade Shade umbrella holder is the perfect addition to your team's toolbox. Maintain sun protection safety regulations while keeping your workforce working hard in perfect comfort in every outdoor scenario. Keeping out of the UV rays is one thing, but staying cool under shade is something your workers will thank you for."
The Trade Shade Magnetic Umbrella Holder costs $59.95 and is available through their website or major hardware stores.
The Trade Shade