An emergency medicine specialist as spoken out to the editor of the Medical Journal of Australia after she treated a man for first-degree burns caused by a high-vis workwear shirt.
In what is believed to be the first case of its type, Dr Ioana Vlad explained that the reflective tape on the man’s shirt caused burns across his back.
The worker presented to Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital in January of 2018 with what he believed to be a rash. Dr Vlad was quick to notice the rash was directly in line, on his skin, with the high-vis shirt he wore on presentation to the hospital.
While the burns were minor and diagnosed as first-degree – which is akin to sunburn in severity – Dr Vlad wrote to the MJA to warn of the dangers the clothing may present.
“It could happen to other people as well, especially if they wear the same type of shirt and the same type of reflective tape, and especially if they work out in the sun and the sun shines directly onto the shirt,” she said.
Dr Vlad told ABC News that while she “recommended employers not make shirts with reflective tape compulsory during the day, there were precautions workers could take to minimise their risk of being burned.”
“Those people wearing them should be aware that if this tape is coming into direct contact with the skin, and they are in direct sunlight, this could happen,” she said.
“I guess it is something the manufacturers need to look at and see if they need to either make sure they put a different piece of cloth underneath this reflective tape … or maybe to limit the number of uses for this shirt,” she said.
The requirement for safety vests or high-visibility clothing to be worn at different times of day are outlined by Standards Australia.