Outdoor workers say skin cancer inevitable

The majority of outdoor workers in Queensland say a skin cancer diagnosis is inevitable, according to new research from Cancer Council Queensland, QUT and Curtin University.

Sun protection among outdoor workers surveyed four industries with a high proportion of outdoor workers – building/construction, rural/farming, local government and public sector.

Around 70 per cent of all outdoor workers surveyed believed it was likely they would develop skin cancer in the future. About 42 per cent had already had a skin cancer, mole or other spot removed or treated.

The study also found only half the workplaces surveyed had a specific sun protection policy in place, and only 56 per cent of workers agreed the policy was enforced.

Cancer Council Queensland spokesperson Katie Clift said outdoor workers taking proper sun protection in the Sunshine State was vital.

“Queensland has the highest rates of skin cancer in the world – and outdoor workers are some of the most at risk,” Ms Clift said.

“It’s crucial that anyone working outdoors regularly in Queensland gives themselves the best possible protection against skin cancer.

“Implementing SunSmart policies and procedures and modelling behaviours to reduce skin cancer risk in outdoor workers is a shared responsibility between workplaces and their workers.

“It’s imperative that outdoor workers Slip on protective clothing, Slop on minimum SPF30 broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen, Slap on a broad-brimmed hat, Seek shade and Slide on wrap-around sunnies where possible.

“Our research shows half of the workplaces surveyed provided shade, but only 1 in 10 workers reported using it usually or always.

“Only 18 per cent of workers limited their sun exposure during peak UV times in the heat of the day – between 10am and 3pm.

“We recommend all industry bodies employing outdoor workers implement a sun protection policy, and ensure that policy is well-enforced and supported.”

QUT health researcher from the Institute for Health and Biomedical Innovation, Associate Professor Monika Janda, said sun protection strategies needed to match the characteristics of workplaces and workers well to ensure better sun protection.

Queensland has the highest rates of skin cancer in the world. Around 3,000 melanoma and 133,000 non-melanoma skin cancers are diagnosed across the state each year.

Sun protection is required when the UV Index is 3 and above. In Queensland, the UV Index is 3 and above all year round, so Cancer Council Queensland encourages sun protection through every season.

More information about Cancer Council Queensland is available via Cancer Council Helpline 13 11 20 or cancerqld.org.au.

For more information or interviews, please contact:

Katie Clift, Executive Manager, Media and Spokesperson, Cancer Council Queensland

Ph: (07) 3634 5372 or 0409 001 171