Workers urged to take care to avoid skin cancer risk

Workers have been urged by WorkSafe WA, particularly those who work outdoors on a regular basis, to take care during work in order to avoid the risk of skin cancer.

WorkSafe WA Acting Commissioner Andrea Crichton-Browne said today all precautions should be taken by workers who cannot avoid exposure to the sun in the course of their work.

“Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world, and at least two in every three Australians will develop skin cancer before they reach the age of 70,” Ms Crichton-Browne said.

“Well over 2000 Australians die each year from skin cancer, and although most skin cancers can be cured if detected and treated early enough, it is far better to prevent them by protecting the skin from the sun.

“People whose jobs involve a lot of time in the sun are at high risk of developing skin cancers, and employers have a responsibility to minimise all risks in the workplace.”

Under occupational safety and health laws, employers have a duty of care to provide systems of work, information, training and personal protective clothing and equipment so employees are not exposed to hazards.

In consultation with safety and health representatives and employees, employers should identify any sun exposure hazards and introduce control measures to reduce exposure.

Personal protective equipment should be supplied and used to protect workers from sun exposure.  This could include long sleeved shirts, trousers, enclosed footwear, wide-brimmed hats or hats with neck flaps, wrap-around style sunglasses and broad spectrum sunscreen.

Sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours, more frequently if a worker is sweating profusely, and where sunscreen and eye protection is used it should comply with the relevant Australian Standard.

Employees also have a duty of care to themselves and others in the workplace, and must comply with instructions and use the protective clothing and equipment provided.  This includes leaving hats on and not rolling up shirt sleeves while outdoors.

“Employers can also help out by rotating workers’ tasks where possible so their time in the sun is minimised,” Ms Crichton-Browne said.

“Most skin cancers can be treated if found early, so it’s important that everyone learns how to check skin for the early signs of skin cancer.”

SunSmart WA manager Mark Strickland strongly endorsed the comments by WorkSafe.

“We hope that all outdoor workers take this call to protect themselves from the sun seriously,” Mr Strickland said.

“The sun protection you use today will help make sure you are here tomorrow.  Keep an eye on the UV Index and be SunSmart when it is three or higher,” he said.

For more information, please visit –

WorkSafe WA – www.commerce.wa.gov.au/worksafe

Cancer Council – www.cancerwa.asn.au

MyUV.com.au/skincancer for your guide on how to check yourself for skin cancer today