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.
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.
(Both basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are known as non-melanoma skin cancer)
As is the case with all cancers, early detection is vital. Make sure your GP is aware that you work outside and get into the habit of having regular skin checks with your GP or other specialist.
Become familiar with the look of your skin which will help you to notice any changes you might want to get investigated. http://www.cancer.org.au/preventing-cancer/sun-protection/check-for-signs-of-skin-cancer.html Check for –
Check out this great poster you can display at work or email to employees
Or provide them with this guide for working safely in the sun Skin Cancer & Outdoor Work.
Everyone has a mobile phone these days so why not download this app http://www.cancerqld.org.au/page/prevention/skin_cancer/sunsmart_iphone_app/ which allows you to access the latest information on UV levels and weather forecasts for your current location.
There’s also a very comprehensive guide from the Cancer Council for employers which includes a sample sun protection policy for your business.
More detailed information as well as education services offered by Cancer Council can be found on their website. http://www.cancer.org.au/preventing-cancer/sun-protection/sun-protection-in-the-workplace.html
Here’s a wonderful toolbox talk video to share with your staff introduced by former Queensland cricketer Ian Healy
Your business can sign up to QUEST a free service provided by Cancer Council Queensland to access lots of information and resources to assist you put into place and promote healthy policies across a number of areas including sun safety. www.quest.org.au
Edition 15 - Sun Exposure Poses High Risk for Queensland Landscape Industry Workers
Landscape Queensland is working with Workplace Health and Safety Queensland on a Healthy Workers Initiative as part of the Queensland Government's Healthier.Happier.Workplaces.Initiative.
Some of the above information is reproduced from
This information was reproduced from information available from Cancer Council Queensland’s QUEST program – quest.org.au or available from Cancer Council Queensland’s website – cancerqld.org.au.