Doctor issues warning over tradie’s safety shirt burn

by | Feb 20, 2020

A Perth doctor recently issued a warning to tradies after a patient suffered first-degree burns from a reflective strip on his high-vis work shirt, according to a recent Herald Sun report.

The 40-year-old environmental engineer initially went to the Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital emergency department complaining of a painful red rash across his back, noticing the burn after undressing at home after working in the sun for the day.

The tradie had suffered a large first-degree burn from the reflective strip across his yellow high-vis safety shirt, Dr Vlad wrote in the latest issue of the Australian Medical Journal.

“The patient … was required to wear (the shirts) throughout his working day (and) also reported that the high visibility tape on his shirt often becomes extremely hot when he works out in the sun,” Dr Vlad said in the report.

A WA doctor has since issued a warning for tradespeople after the patient suffered first degree burns from the reflective strip on his work shirt. This appears to be the first reported case of skin burns from the overheating of reflective tape in safety clothing, he said, in the Herald Sun report.

“Retro-reflective tape is used on work clothing to increase the wearer’s visibility to others, especially in the dark. It usually consists of minute glass beads or prismatic elements encapsulated in a transparent film, which reflect light back towards its source,” Dr Vlad said.

He warned that workplaces requiring safety garments that include reflective tape should ensure they are not worn in very hot and sunny conditions — especially if the strip is in direct contact with the skin.

“Manufacturers should consider designing shirts that decrease direct contact between retro-reflective tape and skin, potentially by increasing the number or thickness of cloth layers under it,” Dr Vlad said in the Herald Sun report.