With the summer months upon us it’s important to start thinking about how we can protect ourselves from the sun while at work.
According to Safe Work Australia, outdoor workers are receiving five to 10 times more ultraviolet (UV) exposure per year than indoor workers. This statistic is particularly revealing considering sun exposure in Australia has been identified as the cause of around 99% of non-melanoma skin cancers and 95% of melanomas*.
So how do you protect yourself from the sun when working in an outdoor environment?
Sonic HealthPlus’ State Medical Officer and Occupational and Environmental Physician, Doctor Angus Forbes said there are a few simple, but effective strategies that can be applied to help minimise sun exposure at the workplace.
When working outdoors all workers should be wearing:
- A minimum of 30+ SPF sunscreen
- Protective light-weight clothing that has a UV protection rating
- A broad brimmed hat with neck protection
- Sunglasses with a 10+ EPF rating.
“In addition to this, it is also recommend that when possible, outdoor work is completed outside of peak UV times which is generally between 10am and 3pm. If someone is required to work during these times, they should have easy access to shade and water”, said Dr Forbes.
While protecting yourself in the sun is important, it’s equally important to protect yourself out of the sun by keeping a close eye on your skin for any changes. This can be done by administering the ABCD system at home, or by visiting your General Practitioner for a thorough skin exam using a dermatoscope.
The ABCD system involves checking your spots to see if:
- A (Asymmetry) one portion of the mole does not match the other
- B (Border) edges are irregular, notched or blurred
- C (Colour) different shades of black or brown, patchy colours
- D (Diameter) spot is six millimetres across or growing larger.
If you notice ANY changes to your skin or have concerns about skin cancer you should talk to your General Practitioner as soon as possible.
To help you get the Staying Sun Safe In the Workplace message out, we've developed the below poster for you to distribute and share with your team.
*Safe Work Australia, National Hazard Exposure Worker Surveillance: Exposure to direct sunlight and the provision of sun exposure controls in Australian workplaces.