By JR on Friday, April 20, 2012
It's all just fine for them in their air-conditioned offices of course. For over a century, Qld. rail workers have worked outdoors in temperatures that would be regarded as a life-threatening heat-wave in Europe -- and clothing appropriate for the heat was a major factor in enabling that
IN A fight tailor-made for our great state, an epic stoush is brewing over men's work shorts following the decision by Queensland Rail to ditch railworkers rights to a fashion statement as synonymous with Queensland as XXXX and the Great Barrier Reef.
The Courier-Mail broke the news of QR's fashion edict yesterday and was flooded with feedback. The long and er ... short of it?
Most Queenslanders were not happy, but opinion remains divided on the future of men's work shorts.
The fashion world has backed the Rail Tram and Bus Union's calls for shorts to be saved. Yet due to safety concerns, including the risk of skin cancer, occupational healthy and safety experts are backing QR's move.
Leo Ruschena, lecturer in Occupational Health and Safety at Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, said the traditional image of the Aussie worker was changing.
"The bronzed ANZAC image of the bronzed labourer wearing shorts, maybe a singlet and boots I think is something we should consign to the dust bin of history," Mr Ruschena said.
Mr Ruschena said the heightened risk of skin cancer in Queensland required stricter sun protection including the centimetres of skin between socks and shorts. "Whether it's railway workers or farmers they're all subject to the same UV rays and need to cover up," Mr Ruschena said.
He said an organisation's move to cover up their workers was often about protecting their own interests with the rates of workplace negligence claims for skin cancer soaring. "I imagine (QR) would have a large number of claims in relation to skin cancer and those claims around Australia is on the rise," Mr Ruschena said.
Despite this, Brisbane's fashion elite claim there should always be space for shorts in a man's wardrobe. "There's all types of shorts ideal for a lot of industries ... we have very hot days where we need shorts," Brisbane fashion designer Daniel Lightfoot said.
Mr Lightfoot said the fashion world was experiencing a resurgence in shorts, harking back to the 1960s "Gold Coast look" and the shorter the shorts the better.
Aung Lynn, general manager at Brisbane menswear chain Mitchell Ogilvie, agreed. "In Europe people are wearing shorts and jackets," Mr Lynn said. "It can look very trendy but you can't be working at the bank and wearing shorts," he said.