As we start to reach some of our hottest days for the year in Perth, there is always more talk about skin checks, skin screening and skin cancer checks.
The Skin & Cancer Foundation of Australia are urging employers to improve their focus on sun safety.
The recently relseased 2017 SHARC Report (Skin Health Australia Report Card) has found that over 2 million employees who work outdoors are not being provided with any sun protection by their employers. Given an employer’s duty of care and the risk of skin cancer in Australia, this is ‘unacceptable’.
The report also found that 45% of respondents to this Australian survey are required to work outdoors sometimes, regularly or all the time. That is equivalent to 8 million adult Australians being exposed the sun and UV radiation. Despite this large figure, 57% of outdoor workers say their employers do not supply sunscreen, 66% do not supply protective clothing and 80% do not provide sunglasses. Of most concern, was that 28% of outdoor workers were provided with no protection at all from their employers.
An employers Duty of Care
Exposure to solar ultraviolet (UV) radiation is a serious hazard for everyone is Australia. It is a significant workplace hazard for the those who work outdoors. An employer has a Duty of Care obligation under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
What can you do to reduce skin cancer risk in your workplace?
Personal protective equipment should be supplied and used to protect workers from sun exposure. This could include long sleeved shirts, trousers, enclosed footwear, wide-brimmed hats or hats with neck flaps, wrap-around style sunglasses and broad spectrum sunscreen. Sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours, more frequently if a worker is sweating profusely, and where sunscreen and eye protection is used it should comply with the relevant Australian Standard.
WorkSafe say employers need to consider what higher-level control measures they can use to keep workers out of the sun. This may include re-scheduling outdoor tasks, moving work indoors, or providing shade structures. If that isn’t possible, they’re urging businesses to at least use lower-level control measures, such as providing protective clothing, hats and eye wear, and SPF 50+ sunscreen.
Employees also have a duty of care to themselves and others in the workplace, and must comply with instructions and use the protective clothing and equipment provided. This includes leaving hats on and not rolling up shirt sleeves while outdoors.
Employers can also consider rotating workers’ tasks where possible so exposure to the sun is minimised. See more on WorkSafe WA’s guidance for Sun Safety in the Workplace.
The MyUV.com.au/skincancer is also useful guide on how to check yourself for skin cancer today.