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Fletcher Construction is smart in the sun

Construction personnel work outside in all weathers, including in the heat in the height of summer. That’s why Fletcher Construction knows it must do all it can to protect the skin and eye health of its 3500 employees.

Fletcher Construction is a nationwide construction company that takes the wellbeing of its people very seriously. The company has a focused wellbeing and occupational health strategy covering all its sites, including a series of initiatives to help its people be SunSmart.

At the beginning of summer last year, the company ran a Workplace Sun Protection and Heat Exposure Protection awareness campaign.

“It’s obvious that in the summer we need to remind and educate our workers about safety in the heat and glare of the sun,” says Michelle Buckton, Fletcher Construction Group National Occupational Health and Wellness Specialist.

Communicating the message

To get the messages out to construction teams across the country, Michelle sent a package of resources out to each site administrator, if the site had one, or the sites’ health and safety advisors.

These representatives then introduced the sun safety messages into their toolbox or briefing meetings (short meetings held with all crew at the start of each day). They also distributed resources and put up posters and reminder stickers where people will notice them, such as next to the sunscreen bottles. 

To reach a wider group, a poster covering SunSmart personal protective equipment and how to spot a potentially dangerous mole was translated into Māori, Samoan and Tongan.

“We wanted to create resources people would actually read and use. Some of our resources had already been used for a couple of years and had become like wallpaper. No one actually saw them anymore.”

The SunSmart messages were also loaded onto each business unit’s Electronic Tool Centre. “But this is a challenge for us as not all our workers have computer access. We’re working on developing various new ways to reach people without computers,” says Michelle.

Michelle also had representatives from the Cancer Society come along to reinforce the sun safety messages through a 30-minute talk. “We did this right around the country, holding approximately 50 sessions,” she says.

SunSmart on site

Fletchers sunsmart manFletcher Construction has high SPF sunscreen readily available at all sites.

"Our people are becoming more aware of the need to use sun protection," says Michelle. "We provide hard hats with brims and neck flaps. Some business units also have a mandatory ‘long-long’ policy, meaning outdoor workers must wear long sleeves and trousers."

"There is always a balance between protecting workers from the potential harmful effects of the sun and the potential for heat stress when manually working. I’m looking for a provider who can get us a UPF-rated, light-weight, hi-vis jacket to wear during the summer months."

Each site displays the day’s Sun Protection Alert (SPA) on a specially designed SPA Board showing the hours the skin-damaging ultraviolet (UV) radiation will be at its highest so sun protection measures need to be taken.

"These are updated each day from September to April using information from the MetService app." 

See these resources for examples of how Fletcher Construction spreads its SunSmart and hydration messages.

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