Workplaces and sun protection
Australia is the skin cancer capital of the world. Reducing ultraviolet (UV) radiation exposure is the most effective way to prevent skin cancer.
All workplaces that require employees to work outside for all or part of the day have a duty of care to reduce the risk of skin cancer.
Find out more about:
- Why is sun protection in the workplace important?
- Sun safety guidance for WH&S representatives
- Taking action
- Resources for workplaces
- Tax deductions for sun protection products
- Cancer in the workplace
Why is sun protection in the workplace important?
Working outdoors can be a great way to earn a living. However, with most parts of NSW experiencing high UV radiation levels most of the year round, it also means that outdoor workers are at higher risk of sunburn, skin damage, eye damage and skin cancer.
It has been estimated that outdoor workers receive five to 10 times more UV exposure per year than indoor workers and that around 200 melanomas and 34,000 non-melanoma skin cancers per year are caused by occupational exposures in Australia. Long periods of working in the sun can also cause serious damage to your eyes such as cataracts.
As an outdoor worker, the best way to protect your skin is to create a barrier between you and the sun every day – that is slipping on a shirt, slopping on sunscreen, slapping on a hat, seeking shade and sliding on sunglasses.
Sun safety guidance for WH&S representatives
Protecting your workers from UV related harm isn’t just a legal obligation – it makes good business sense too.
The Work Health and Safety (WHS) Act 2011 outlines the duty of care all workplaces have, to provide a safe working environment for employees.
The Act also states 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.
The Occupational exposure to 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 approach, which includes a range of simple protective measures, a policy, training and provision of information 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 that workplaces with outdoor workplaces have a comprehensive approach to sun protection that helps minimise occupational exposure to ultraviolet radiation.
Follow the steps in our downloadable resource templates to help you develop your approach:
- Risk assessment
Determine the risk of hazardous levels of exposure to UV radiation from the sun associated with performing a role in your organisation.
- Identification of risk control measures
Set the engineering and administrative controls, and PPE your workplace will adopt.
- Sun protection policy
Document why and how your workplace will manage the risk from UV radiation.Your policy should include the following key elements:
- description of the hazard and key reasons for the policy
- details of sun protection control measures to action
- details of education and training requirements
- an outline of who is responsible for implementation and monitoring
- procedures for managing non-compliance
- details of review process
- Training employees to work safely in the sun
Use our UV safety and skin cancer discussion toolbox and UV as a workplace hazard quiz to educate and assess your employees’ understanding on the importance of sun protection in the workplace.
Resources for workplaces
Cancer Council has a range of resources to support your workplace implement effective sun protection measures including:
Guide for the WH&S representative
Our Skin cancer and outdoor work. A work health and safety guide provides WH&S representatives with information and advice to understand and confidently implement good sun protection policies and practices in the workplace.
Brochures for employees
- Work outdoors? Use UV protection everyday
A brochure explaining how outdoor workers can protect their skin at work.
- Can you spot a skin cancer?
An A5 flyer or A3 poster providing descriptions of danger and warning signs for skin cancer and encouraging people to get to know their own skin.
- Checked your skin lately?
A3 poster reminding your workers to get to know their own skin and visit their GP if they notice any changes
- Work outdoors? Use UV protection everyday
A3 posters for different professions reminding your workers to use sun protection everyday when at work
Our resources are available for order in print copy.
The SunSmart UV alert app
Managing outdoor workers webinar
SafeWork NSW and Cancer Council NSW talk about the risks that workers are exposed to when working outdoors, and how employers can manage these risks.
Small businesses who watch this webinar may be eligible to receive a small business rebate of up to the value of $500!
Tax deductions for sun protection products
Did you know that tax deductions are available for sun protection products such as sunscreen, hats and sunglasses if you are required to work outside?
Talk to your tax advisor or to the Australian Taxation Office on 13 72 26 or www.ato.gov.au
Cancer in the workplace
Occupational exposures to carcinogenic (cancer-causing) agents are estimated to cause over 5000 new cases of cancer in Australia each year. Learn more about how you can protect your employees from the risks associated with exposure to other cancer-causing agents in the workplace.