Outdoor workers exposed to up to 10 times more UV than indoor workers

Monday 4 December, 2023

SunSmart warns Victorians working outdoors they could be exposed to up to 10 times more UV exposure yearly than indoor workers, placing them at higher risk of skin damage and cancer, including melanoma.1

This call follows a recent report published by the World Health Organization and the International Labour Organization which identifies workplaces as a key setting for preventing
skin cancer as globally nearly 1 in 3 deaths from non-melanoma skin cancer is caused by working under the sun.2

The world-first report estimates the global burden of non-melanoma skin cancer caused by UV exposure at work and will enable countries to prioritise policies and interventions to protect workers and prevent skin cancer.

Head of SunSmart, Emma Glassenbury, said sun protection is recommended all year round for outdoor workers as they are consistently exposed to the sun’s UV in their daily lives.

“Repeated exposure to the sun’s UV radiation increases your risk of skin cancer. Each time someone works outdoors unprotected, they are adding to their lifetime of UV exposure,” said Ms Glassenbury.

“With more than 95% of melanoma, and 99% non-melanoma skin cancers caused by exposure to UV radiation, reducing outdoor workers’ exposure is crucial to prevent skin cancer and save lives.”

“Skin cancers are one of the most preventable types of cancer if you protect yourself and cover up from the sun’s UV by wearing full-length clothing, a broad brimmed hat and sunglasses, applying sunscreen to any exposed skin, and working or taking breaks indoors or shaded areas, when possible,” Ms Glassenbury said.

Employers have a responsibility to protect their workers from risk, including exposure to UV radiation. SunSmart supports all Victorian workplaces to know their UV risk and how they can reduce the impact to keep workers safe.

To help workplaces address their OH&S responsibilities, SunSmart Victoria have developed a range of UV safety training and education and offer training sessions across Victoria. Sessions are tailored to the workplace, so employers and employees walk away with a clear idea on immediate steps to take to reduce UV exposure in their environment.

In 2023, SunSmart and Incolink have partnered to deliver 15 UV SunSmart Tradie Toolboxes to more than 1,600 workers on construction sites throughout Victoria.

The 15 to 20-minute Toolbox talks led by a SunSmart expert educate workers of the risks associated with working outdoors, the steps they can take to protect themselves, and the
importance of regular skin checks.

Incolink is pleased to be proactively working with employer members to educate workers.

“It's absolutely critical that the message about prevention and early detection gets out there to construction and outdoor workers,” Incolink CEO, Erik Locke said.

“Incolink is pleased to play its part in educating workers about the things they can do to reduce their skin cancer risk, like wearing protective clothing,” said Mr Locke.

While workplaces have a responsibility, so too do workers to protect themselves. Outdoor workers should use sun protection all year round, especially over these summer months when the UV consistently reaches high and extreme levels.

For more information or to book a training session visit https://www.sunsmart.com.au/advice-for/workplaces/uv-training-education

1 Godar DE. UV doses Worldwide. Photochemistry and Photobiology, 2005, 81: 736-749.

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