Why SunSmart environments matter

Outdoor workers face a higher risk of skin cancer due to increased ultraviolet (UV) exposure, up to 10 times more UV radiation compared to indoor workers.

It has been estimated that each year, 200 melanomas and 34 000 non melanoma skin cancer diagnoses can be attributed to workplace UV exposure.

According to Safe Work Australia data from 2010/11 – 2018/19, over 1200 workers compensation claims for skin cancer were accepted, worth a total of $32.8m. This represents around 17% of all occupational cancer claims.

In Western Australia under the Work Health and Safety (WHS) Act 2020 (WA), workplaces have a legal obligation to provide a safe working environment which includes protection from UV related harm, minimising the risk of skin cancer.

UV radiation is classified as a Group 1 carcinogen, in the same risk category as hazardous substances like asbestos and tobacco.

In order to meet their legal responsibilities, workplaces should proactively address UV radiation as a workplace hazard and implement effective control measures to reduce the exposure of their workforce to UV radiation.

Workplace Sun Protection Guidelines

To prioritise sun safety and comply with regulations while safeguarding workers health, workplaces should take the following steps:

  • Show organisational commitment to sun safety
  • Implement a clear sun protection policy
  • Provide easy to follow protection measures
  • Offer sufficient, training, information and resources

These actions will contribute to fostering a safer workplace culture, reducing UV exposure and ultimately the risk of potential skin cancer.

Use Cancer Council’s Sun Safety for Outdoor Workers:  Implementation Guide  to assist your workplace in enhancing your sun safety culture, along with our comprehensive Skin cancer and outdoor work – A work health and safety guide designed to equip WHS representatives with valuable insights and guidance on the significance of sun protection policies and practices in the workplace.

Sun protection guidance for workplaces

Implementing a comprehensive sun protection program, which includes a range of simple protective measures, can prevent UV-related injuries and reduce the suffering and costs associated with skin cancer—including reduced productivity, morale and financial returns.

Plan: Envision your path and create your roadmap

Creating a safer workplace involves understanding UV radiation and its harmful effects as well as fulfilling legal obligations as an employer. The Sun Safety for Outdoor Workers:  Implementation Guide offers straightforward, practical steps for integrating sun safety protocols into your workplace.

Begin by doing a UV Risk Assessment to spot any UV related risks and see what safety measures are already in place. Then decide on the areas that need the most attention and use the  Sun Safety for Outdoor Workers: Action Plan template to outline your strategy.

Additionally, consult with your colleagues – their insights can really help shape your sun safety plan.

Do: Walk the SunSmart Talk

Officially kickstart your sun safety plan by clearly communicating upcoming changes and staff expectations. Use resources such as posters, newsletter articles, staff intranet, meetings and PPE demonstrations to spread the word extensively and consistently.

Review: Reflect, shine and refine

Monitor regularly and document your actions and results. Gather staff feedback and learn from successes to improve and consider how to maintain sun safety in your workplace.

Working safely in the sun and heat for outdoor workers

Did you know outdoor workers are at high risk of heat stroke, skin and eye damage and skin cancer, even on cool cloudy days?

Are you an outdoor worker?

Explore this training session if you spend time working outdoors and learn how to:

  • Recognise hazards for UV and heat
  • Be SunSmart
  • Protect yourself from harm

Visit the SmartMove website to complete the course.


Support for your workplace

Download our resources to help you implement sun safety in your workplace

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