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Workplace Sun Protection

26 February 2020 | News

UV exposure is known as one of the biggest risk factors associated with skin cancer. If you’re in a job that exposes you to the sun for long periods, then you’re putting your health at risk. As an employer, it’s your responsibility to ensure there is a workplace sun protection policy. In other words, you have measures in place that prevent your workers from being exposed to unacceptable levels of UV exposure.

According to The Cancer Council, Australia has the highest rate of skin cancer in the world. 80% of all new cases of cancer in Australia are skin cancers, and it affects two in every three Australians before the age of 70. As an occupational health service, we know the importance of taking steps to prevent health & safety issues at work. Therefore, it’s recommended that your business employs a workplace sun protection program to minimise the risk of skin cancer.

What is a sun protection program?

Under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, all organisations have an obligation to ensure that the health and safety of workers and other people in the workplace is not put at risk from the work being carried out. This includes taking measures to reduce the risks that come with constant exposure to UV radiation. Safe Work Australia has developed a Guide which offers practical guidance for persons conducting a business or undertaking and workers about managing health and safety risks associated with exposure to solar ultraviolet radiation (UVR).

Analysis suggests that the people most at risk are tradesmen, farmers, construction workers, and drivers. If your business employs any of these people – or carries out a lot of outdoor work – then you need a sun protection program in place.

This comes as a recommendation from the Cancer Council, and they outline that a comprehensive program will include the following:

  • Measures to protect individuals from the sun
  • Training employees to work safely in the sun
  • Carrying out full-scale risk assessments of the UV exposure to all workers
  • A sun protection policy – a document that outlines the program in writing
  • Constant monitoring of the program’s effectiveness

Putting all of this together can help you create a workplace that’s much safer for everyone to work in.

How can you reduce the risk of skin cancer?

Lowering the risk of skin cancer is largely about minimising the UV exposure that your employees are put under. To do this, you should consider the following:

  • Provide shade for employees at work. This may require you to engineer shaded structures for workers to work under, but it’s necessary to keep them out of the sun.
  • Offer protective clothing for your team members to wear. For example, provide sunhats, long sleeve tops, sunglasses, and so on.
  • Ensure that all of your employees put on sunscreen at regular intervals if they have bare skin showing. This is particularly important to protect the face.
  • For employees in vehicles, tinting the windows can help minimise UV exposure on the job.

What can we do to help?

Jobfit offers skin cancer checks onsite in the workplace by an occupational health doctor trained in the detection of skin cancer. The goal of our skin cancer check is to screen the skin for any suspicious lesions. Employees will complete a skin questionnaire and a signed consent. Our doctor will review before proceeding with an examination.

The employee will be provided with a written referral to their chosen doctor. The employee should then follow up for removal of the suspicious lesion. Our doctor will also give specific advice to employees to reduce their risk of skin cancer. Furthermore, sun protection information will be provided.

If you need advice on a workplace sun protection program or skin cancer checks, get in touch with us today to learn more about us, or to see how we can help.

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