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  • Outdoor workers not getting the SunSmart message

    26 March 2017

    With outdoor workers receiving between five and ten times more sun exposure than indoor workers, it is estimated that 200 melanoma skin cancers and 34,000 non –melanoma skin cancers are caused by occupational UV radiation exposure each year in Australia.

    To combat these figures, Cancer Council SA is introducing the state to Sonny Burns through a series of web, social and radio advertisements. Sonny, a ‘tradie’, will promote sun protection messages to increase the awareness of UV radiation exposure and encourage outdoor workers to be consistently SunSmart.

    South Australian work health and safety legislation[1] says employers should take steps to reduce the health risks associated with overexposure to UV radiation and Safe Work Australia has identified the construction industry as a high risk occupation for overexposure to UV[2].

    Barry Smith, 30, a builder and owner of Smith Building Group has five employees and works mostly outside.

    “Sun protection is very important to me as I’ve got fair skin and burn easily.

    “I use common sense and supply broad brim hats with neck flaps, UV shirts and sunscreen. I won’t allow my workers to go shirtless or wear singlets.

    “I really hope Sonny Burns has an impact because to be honest, so many young tradies would rather have the perfect tan and risk skin cancer than be SunSmart. I encourage people to make sure they’re giving their staff and themselves the best information and protection when it comes to the sun.”

    Cancer Council SA Chief Executive Lincoln Size says large businesses are usually resourced to develop and enforce formal work health and safety (WHS) policies that cover sun protection but sole traders and smaller businesses don’t always have the same resources.

    “Information from Safe Work SA[3] show larger businesses receive their WHS information mostly from government documents and direct from industry associations whereas sole traders and small businesses are more likely to get their information from the media, online, from on the job experience and industry pamphlets.

    Australia has one of the highest skin cancer rates in the world with more than 970,000 skin cancers treated each year and over 2,000 people dying from the disease which is almost totally preventable.

    “We want employers and employees - especially those working outdoors - to know where to access sun protection information to possibly save their lives,” Mr Size said.

    Cancer Council SA offers SunSmart workplace education sessions and SunSmart policy information. To contact Cancer Council SA’s SunSmart team, phone 08 8291 4168 or email sunsmart@cancersa.org.au.

    For more information on the Sonny Burns campaign, visit www.uvdaily.com.au.


    [1] Work Health Safety Act 2012

    [2] The Australian Work Exposure Study: Carcinogen Exposures in the Construction Industry, May 2016

    [3] Safe Work Australia: Sources of Work Healthy and Safety Information in Australian Workplaces

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