Outdoor workers in Australia receive five to 10 times more sun exposure than indoor workers, placing them at an increased risk of skin damage and skin cancer.
In Australia it is estimated that approximately 200 melanomas and 34,000 non-melanoma skin cancers per year are due to occupational exposure to UV.
The Tasmanian Work Health and Safety Act requires employers, so far as reasonably practical; to ensure the health and safety of their workers and those influenced by the activities of the employer.
Workers must cooperate with their workplace’s efforts to ensure their own health and safety, and that of other people.
Between 2000 and 2009, a total of 1360 workers’ compensation claims for sun related injury/disease were made in Australia, at a total cost of $38.4 million.
Developing a comprehensive workplace sun protection program will help to protect your workers and minimise the risk of costly lawsuits in the future.
If you’re working outside for long periods the following website may be a useful resource. UV Daily has been designed specifically for outdoor workers (mainly self-employed or those employed in small businesses). On the homepage of the site it will ask you to share your location and then you’ll be able to see the temperature, current UV reading and the risk category for the day. There’s also a variety of educational tools and information on the site including access to a free online course called UV and Heat awareness. You can check it out here.
A SunSmart Workplace
Exposure to solar UVR causes skin and eye damage and is the main cause of skin cancer in Australia. All employers should protect employees by providing a safe working environment that is free from health risks. This includes taking proper steps to reduce the known health risks associated with occupational exposure to solar UVR for employees who work outdoors. Typically, indoor workers experience minimal sun exposure during the working week, which may put them at risk of low levels of vitamin D. Conversely, high recreational sun exposure on sunny weekends and summer holidays can increase the risk of skin cancer.
- Protect your workers from ultraviolet radiation by providing long sleeved clothing, sun protective hats, sunglasses and sunscreen.
- Develop a workplace sun protection policy
- Encourage employees to download the free SunSmart UV Alert app for smartphones:
The SunSmart app lets you know when you do and don’t need sun protection, making it easier than ever to be smart about your sun exposure all year. For smartphone users, this free app is a great way to check the UV Alert when you are out and about. The app is available for iPhone, Android and Samsung here.
- Encourage the use of shade at your workplace – use a combination of natural, built and temporary shade for your employees to use on breaks and when outdoors.
More information about SunSmart workplaces is available in Cancer Council Australia’s position statement on sun protection in the workplace Cancer Council Australia Sun Protection in the Workplace.
More information on how to make your workplace SunSmart
For assistance or feedback developing or reviewing your workplace UV exposure policy contact us we can provide up-to date evidence based recommendations:
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Ph: 6341 8403
Tax deductions for personal protective equipment (PPE)
Since 2002 workers in a wide range of outdoor occupations have been able to claim the cost of sunglasses, hats and sunscreen as a tax deduction. This is because wearing sun protective clothing, sunglasses, sunscreen and hats is no different from wearing safety boots, hard hats or gloves to reduce workplace injury. For more information visit the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) website.