Information for construction

Get ultraviolet (UV) savvy

Australia experiences some of the highest levels of UV radiation in the world. And you might be surprised to learn that it’s the UV – not heat – that causes sunburn and skin damage. UV can’t be seen or felt so you don’t know when your skin is being damaged until it’s too late.

Importantly, damage from UV exposure adds up over the years. So the more you’re exposed, the greater your risk of skin cancer. That’s why it’s important to protect your skin all year round when working outdoors.

Don't wait for summer – join the campaign

Unfortunately, just 8% of construction workers are properly protected from UV damage on the job.* Remind everyone on your site of the importance of UV safety – don't wait for summer to be SunSmart on the job as it may be too late.

Video courtesy of Cancer Council WA

Here are some easy things you can do to help your job site become SunSmart:

1. Book a toolbox talk: Developed specifically for the construction audience, the session is short and punchy (15 minutes) and provides key UV information, prevention and early detection messages. The skin damage viewer is also used to demonstrate the impact of the sun on your skin. A great way to kick off your SunSmart campaign. Download the booking form.

2. Download these resources for your job site:

3. Request hard copies of the campaign kit: email sunsmartworkplace@cancervic.org.au

4. Download the free UV app. The app allows you to keep tabs on the UV throughout the day. It tells you the sun protection times by giving you alerts. Though remember, outdoor workers should be covering up even at very low levels of UV to reduce the cumulative effect. Download from the App store or Google Play or find out more information .

5. Get social: Spread the word by sharing your photos and stories on social media with the hashtag #dontwaitforsummer. Visit us on Facebook for posts and ideas.

6. Book a UV safety training workshop, ask for policy support or seek advice.  Find out how else we can help you by emailing sunsmartworkplace@cancervic.org.au or call us on (03) 9514 6419.

Peter's story

Peter Vine grew up down the coast and like many young children, spent a lot of time in the sun. But it was the exposure on the worksite as a young carpenter that may have increased his risk of skin cancer. 

“I’d work for hours at a time on site with my shirt off in the blazing sun. I was constantly in the sun unprotected.”

Peter Vine was 20 years old when he got his first melanoma. A mole on his right shoulder blade came back as stage 3 requiring significant surgery. As a young man, Peter was unable to afford skin-grafts so the skin was simply stretched, clamped and stitched together.

“The first diagnosis scared the life out of me and was a real wake-up call. I was forced to change my sun habits after that.”

Despite taking steps to protect his skin, the second melanoma reared its ugly head when Peter was in his 40s. An unfortunate common occurrence for people with excessive UV exposure early in life and a family history of skin cancer. This time Peter’s partner noticed a dark spot suddenly appear on his back. A melanoma on the cusp of stage 3 was diagnosed and surgically removed with wide margins taken.

A difficult personal experience with skin cancer coupled with a tragic family history has left Peter keen to raise awareness of the disease. Peter’s message to other outdoor workers is to take sun protection seriously. 

“No one is immune to skin cancer so cover up and get checked regularly.”

Scott’s story

In just one year carpenter Scott Roediger lost his brother and a close friend to melanoma. His brother Gavin was just 30 years old. His friend Graeme was just 43.

Scott wants anyone working outdoors to get SunSmart, and take better care of their skin.

“Young blokes are difficult. They don’t want to put a hat on if it’s not the right hat, but it’s not rocket science to put sunscreen on or to wear a broad brimmed hat,” Scott said.

“For my part, it sucks that I needed a life or death situation to make me realise what’s important. I’d like to help young blokes realise it’s cool to have sunscreen slapped over your face and it doesn’t matter what you look like, but it’s not cool to have to go to hospital and have cancer.

“Far too many people just don’t realise the risks associated with not being smart in the sun because they either don’t care – or they think it’s not going to happen to them.

“Wearing a broad brimmed hat, using sunscreen and wearing a rashie at the beach all need to become the cool thing to do.

“The bottom line is these simple measures may just prevent you having to go through the year I have.”

Read more here.

* Australian Work Exposure Study : Carcinogen Exposures in the Construction Industry, Safe Work Australia, 2016

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