A report commissioned by Safe Work Australia indicates that the construction industry, including landscape construction were consistently associated with greater odds of providing their workers with sunscreen, protective clothing, hats or sunglasses (personal protective equipment or PPE) which is great news for our industry. The not so great news is being based in Queensland put workers at a higher risk of significant sun exposure.
Employers not only have an obligation under WHS laws to provide the above equipment but also have a responsibility to ensure that supervisors monitor the routine and correct use of PPE. These measures coupled with ensuring adequate hydration throughout the day will see risks for your employees minimised. Since 2002 businesses have been able to claim the cost of PPE as a tax deduction as these items contribute to worker safety no less than safety boots, hard hats or gloves. Cancer Council Infosheet on workplace uniforms.
Of course PPE is only one measure of control against prevention of skin cancer whilst on the job site. You can use shade structures, rotate staff and working in off peak UV times wherever possible, may also be options to consider.
This detailed booklet from the Cancer Council provides employers with vital information and steps to take in the workplace to reduce sun exposure to their workers.
Australia Has the Highest Rate of Skin Cancer in the World!
Over 2000 Australians die each year from skin melanoma and the cost on the health system is huge however both the human and financial cost of skin cancer can be reduced since skin cancer is highly preventable. Due to the nature of the outdoors work undertaken in our industry, education and training of workers is a key factor in managing the risk and reducing these figures.
Did you know?
A fair skinned person in Brisbane may experience sunburn in as little as 8 minutes compared with 27 minutes in Hobart at midday in January.
Skin cancers account for around 80% of all newly diagnosed cancers
Between 95 and 99% of skin cancers are caused by exposure to the sun
GPs have over 12 million patient consultations per year for skin cancer