Outdoor workers exposed to up to 10 times more UV than indoor workers


SunSmart has warned Victorians working outdoors they could be exposed to up to 10 times more UV exposure yearly than indoor workers, placing them at higher risk of skin damage and cancer, including melanoma.

The call follows a recent report published by the World Health Organization and the International Labour Organization which identifies workplaces as a key setting for preventing skin cancer as globally nearly one in three deaths from non-melanoma skin cancer is caused by working under the sun.

The world-first report estimates the global burden of non-melanoma skin cancer caused by UV exposure at work and will enable countries to prioritise policies and interventions to protect workers and prevent skin cancer.

SunSmart head Emma Glassenbury said sun protection is recommended all year round for outdoor workers as they are consistently exposed to the sun’s UV in their daily lives.

“Repeated exposure to the sun’s UV radiation increases your risk of skin cancer. Each time someone works outdoors unprotected, they are adding to their lifetime of UV exposure,” she said.

“With more than 95 per cent of melanoma and 99 per cent non-melanoma skin cancers caused by exposure to UV radiation, reducing outdoor workers’ exposure is crucial to prevent skin cancer and save lives.

“Skin cancers are one of the most preventable types of cancer if you protect yourself and cover up from the sun’s UV by wearing full-length clothing, a broad brimmed hat and sunglasses, applying sunscreen to any exposed skin, and working or taking breaks indoors or shaded areas, when possible.“

Employers have a responsibility to protect their workers from risk, including exposure to UV radiation. SunSmart supports all Victorian workplaces to know their UV risk and how they can reduce the impact to keep workers safe.

To help workplaces address their OH&S responsibilities, SunSmart Victoria have developed a range of UV safety training and education and offer training sessions across Victoria. Sessions are tailored to the workplace, so employers and employees walk away with a clear idea on immediate steps to take to reduce the UV exposure in their environment.

In 2023, SunSmart and Incolink have partnered to deliver 15 UV SunSmart Tradie Toolboxes to more than 1,600 workers on construction sites throughout Victoria.

The 15 to 20-minute Toolbox talks led by a SunSmart expert educate workers of the risks associated with working outdoors, the steps they can take to protect themselves, and the importance of regular skin checks.

While workplaces have a responsibility, so too do workers to protect themselves. Outdoor workers should use sun protection all year round, especially over these summer months when the UV consistently reaches high and extreme levels.