Geelong tops the league when it comes to industries with highest UV exposure

Wednesday 27 November, 2013

SunSmart urges employers to protect workers this summer

Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) show that Geelong has the highest number of workers in industries with high exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation outside of Melbourne.

Safe Work Australia research [1] shows that industries with a high proportion of outdoor workers exposed to excessive levels of sunlight include farming, construction, electrotechnology and telecommunications trades, mining, forestry and horticulture.

SunSmart Manager, Jen Makin, at Cancer Council Victoria said: "Exposure to UV radiation from the sun is the major cause of skin cancer. This data shows that in Geelong there are over 6,000 workers in industries where exposure to excessive amounts of harmful UV radiation is common. Many of these workers will further increase their exposure on weekends, by spending time outside at the beach, at sportsgrounds and parks or in their backyards. With summer just around the corner, we are urging employers in Geelong to think about what steps they can take to protect their employees from the harmful effects of the sun."

In Australia, it is estimated that approximately 200 melanomas and 34,000 non-melanoma skin cancers per year are due to occupational exposure to UV.

"Victorian health and safety legislation requires employers, so far as practical, to provide and maintain a working environment that ensures the health and safety of all workers. As part of this, employers should consider the risks associated with overexposure to UV for their employees," said Ms Makin.

According to SunSmart, there are practical steps workplaces can take to protect employees from the harmful effects of the sun. Rescheduling work to minimise time outdoors in the middle of the day, doing outdoor jobs undercover, sharing outdoor tasks, providing UV protective clothing, sunglasses, hats and sunscreen, making shade available and having a UV policy are some steps that workplaces can take to fulfil their health and safety responsibilities.

Cancer Council Victoria also offers face-to-face SunSmart workplace education sessions that can be delivered at any workplace in Victoria.

"The interactive sessions cover a range of topics including understanding skin cancer and UV, health and safety, how to create a SunSmart workplace, prevention and early detection of skin cancer, and vitamin D. They are a great opportunity for employers to provide employees with training so they can understand the importance of sun protection in the workplace."

City of Greater Geelong Councillor, Lindsay Ellis, portfolio holder for Infrastructure, Parks and Gardens said over 250 outdoor workers took part in the recent SunSmart workplace education sessions.

"Outdoor workers from Councils Belmont, Drysdale and Corio Depots and the Geelong Botanical Gardens have taken part in Cancer Council Victoria's sessions which promote useful steps in how to reduce the risk of skin cancer," said Cr Ellis.

"I encourage other local businesses to get involved in the valuable sessions as they are an excellent way of educating staff about sun protection at work."  

To book a SunSmart education session, visit sunsmart.com.au or contact Emma White on (03) 9635 5148 or sunsmart@cancervic.org.au

For more information, visit sunsmart.com.au. 

Top five Victorian regions outside the Melbourne metropolitan area with workers in industries with highest exposure to UV radiation  

LGAs

Total # of workers

Greater Geelong (C)

6228

Greater Shepparton (C)

3384

Greater Bendigo (C)

3286

Ballarat (C)

2814

Mildura (RC)

2734

       

About the table: This table highlights the latest data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics. It displays the top 5 LGAs by number of workers in industries with high UV exposure (Farmers and Farm Managers, Construction Trades Workers, Electrotechnology and Telecommunications Trades Workers, Construction and Mining Labourers, Farm, Forestry and Garden Workers, and Other Labourers) in rural Victoria.

[1] Safe Work Australia. National Hazard Exposure Worker Surveillance : Exposure to direct sunlight and the provision of sun exposure controls in Australian workplaces. Canberra, Australia, January 2010.

Updated: 27 Nov, 2013