A 40-year-old tradesman suffered a horrific burn on his back after wearing a high-vis shirt to work in the north of Western Australia.
The field engineer took himself to hospital after developing a painful rash, which matched the reflective strip of his shirt, after a day’s work in Pilbara in 2017.
Doctor Iona Vlad, who treated the man at Nickol Bay Hospital in Karratha, said he had suffered from a first-degree burn.
‘I’ve never seen anything like this before, and I couldn’t find another case in the medical literature,’ she told The Medical Journal of Australia.
‘The patient also reported the high visibility tape on his shirt often becomes extremely hot when he works out in the sun,’ Dr. Vlad said.
The strip material in hi-vis work gear is made of minute glass beads, which reflect light back to increase the wearer’s visibility to others, especially in the dark.
But wearers of the material have been warned it increases heat build-up around the shoulders, neck and ears, according to the Queensland Government’s website.
‘Sunlight reflected from tape over the shoulders can cause discomfort and sunburn,’ the site read.
‘Some sites have elected to redesign where the tape goes, removing the reflective tape from over the shoulder.’
Dr. Vlad said she was unsure to what extent the burns increased the risk of skin cancer.
‘But obviously we had infrared radiation getting to the skin, whether there was ultra-violent radiation getting through to the skin as well, I’m not sure,’ she said.
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