Local governments across NSW employ hundreds of people in a wide-range of outdoor occupations. All workplaces that require employees to work outside for all or part of the day have a duty of care to take appropriate steps to reduce the risk of skin cancer and other sun related harm.
The Work Health and Safety (WHS) Act 2011 requires employers in NSW to provide a safe working environment for all employees. The Act also says that employees must co-operate with the employer’s efforts to make the work environment safe. Both employer and employee can be prosecuted if they don’t.
Protecting your workers from UV related harm isn’t just a legal obligation – it makes good business sense too.
The Occupational exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation report produced by Cancer Council Western Australia found 1,360 workers compensation claims for sun related injury or disease were made in Australia between 2000-2009, at a total cost of $38.4 million to employers. Implementing a comprehensive sun protection program, which includes a range of simple protective measures, can prevent sun-related injuries and reduce the suffering and costs associated with skin cancer – including absenteeism for treatment, reduced productivity, morale and financial returns.
Cancer Council recommends all outdoor workplaces have a comprehensive sun protection program in place that is aimed toward minimising occupational exposure to ultraviolet radiation as much as reasonably practicable. An effective sun protection program includes:
- Risk assessment: periodic assessment of the solar UVR exposure risk to all employees.
- Sun protection control measures: the introduction and maintenance of protective measures in line with occupational hazard controls.
- Training employees to work safely in the sun: the provision of information, instruction, training and supervision for employees.
- Sun protection policy: documentation of the program, including control measures, in a written sun protection policy
- Monitoring program effectiveness: a process to determine the effectiveness of control measures and identify changes that may further reduce exposure.
Skin cancer and outdoor work: a guide for employers provides employers with information and advice to confidently address sun protection in the workplace. A comprehensive sun protection program is described, including various sun protection control measures, tips for success and a sample policy to assist with the development and implementation of your program.