With our great climate and open spaces, sports and recreation is a key part of the Australian lifestyle. But spending time outdoors exposes us to UV radiation that increases our risk of skin cancer.
Safety and responsibility
Every organisation involved in conducting sport and recreation events has a responsibility to ensure a safe environment for everyone involved – competitors, officials and spectators. Providing a safe environment includes protecting everyone from the harmful effects of UV radiation. Children are particularly at risk of skin damage; exposure to UV radiation in childhood and adolescence is a key risk factor for developing skin cancer later in life.
Many sporting activities take place in environments with little or no shade and with surfaces such as asphalt, sand and water which reflect UV. By implementing a best-practice Sun Protection Policy, you can help protect adults and children from UV radiation and teach children good sun protection habits from an early age to reduce their risk.
Sun protection is needed when UV is 3 or above
Sun protection times are a forecast for the time of day UV levels will reach 3 or above. At these levels, sun protection is recommended for all skin types. Whilst UV levels are particularly high during the summer months, and highest in the middle of the day, In NSW, UV levels are high enough (UV 3 or above) to damage unprotected skin most months of the year. This means even in winter sun protection is still important.
UV levels and daily sun protection times can be accessed via the SunSmart App, Cancer Council Australia’s home page or the Bureau of Meteorology’s weather App to determine sun protection requirements.
Developing a sun protection policy
Cancer Council NSW has developed a comprehensive sun protection policy (PDF,124KB) which sporting groups can adopt as their own.
A sun protection policy is one of the best ways to ensure your organisation is reducing skin cancer risk for the community. By developing and implementing a best-practice sun protection policy, you will support your community to improve their own sun protection behaviours and reduce their risk of skin cancer.
A sun protection policy should include the following key elements:
- Outdoor events, games and training are scheduled wherever possible outside of peak UV times. UV levels are particularly high during the summer months, and highest in the middle of the day.
- Sun safety is promoted when the UV levels are 3 or above. Download the SunSmart UV App to find your daily local UV levels and sun protection times
- Players, officials and spectators are encouraged to use shade from trees and buildings.
- The organisation provides shade structures, and individuals are also encouraged to bring their own shade, for example, umbrellas.
- The organisation provides or promotes sun protection items such as sun smart clothing, sun smart hats, sunglasses and SPF 30 or higher sunscreen, for players, coaches and officials.
Communicating your sun protection policy
Communicating the new policy and the importance of sun protection is critical to ensuring that the policy is implemented.
You can do this by:
- Officially launching the policy so that every level of the organisation is aware it has been endorsed by the managing committee.
- Including a copy of the sun protection policy with every offer of employment and at enrolment for new members.
- Ensuring the policy is easy to find on the club website.
- Including sun protection information (PDF, 149KB) in your newsletters and new member brochures.
- Adding the SunSmart Widget to your clubs’ website.
- Promoting sun protection at events and meets over the loudspeakers.
What should you do to improve sun protection behaviours
- Complete the 10-Step Sun Protection Checklist for Sporting Organisations (PDF, 181KB)to see whether or not you are implementing best practice sun protection in your club.
- Based on the answers to this, make a list of the changes you would like to implement for each sun protection recommendation.
- Keeping in mind your budget, develop a plan and timeframe to achieve your recommendations for change (for example, ‘we need a more sun protective uniform by the start of the next season’).
- Think about any issues or potential resistance that might arise from players, coaches and officials and how you will overcome these.
- Monitor your progress.
- Encourage senior athletes, coaches/trainers, referees and officials to role model sun protective behaviour to influence participants in the junior sports.
- Ensure that sun protection is incorporated in the planning of all carnivals/meets.