Although most Australians will enjoy a long and healthy life, it's important to understand that cancer can affect you and your employees. One third of all cancer deaths in Australia can be prevented.
The good news is, there are things workplaces can do to help employees reduce their risk.
- Encourage the use of shade at your workplace – use a combination of natural, built and temporary shade for your employees to use on breaks and when outdoors.
- Protect your workers from ultraviolet radiation by providing long sleeved clothing, sun protective hats, sunglasses and sunscreen.
- Preferably ensure all areas of your workplace are smokefree. If a designated outdoor smoking area is provided, ensure that it's well away from building entrances, walkways and areas where staff are required to work.
- Encourage people to ride or walk to work and to use the stairs.
- Provide bike sheds and showers.
- Have walking meetings where possible. Consider walking to meetings that are a short distance away.
- Include healthy options when catering.
- At social events and functions, make sure water or juices are readily available and alcohol is served in moderation.
- Limit the number of vending machines.
- Organise workplace events that encourage physical activity.
Occupational and environmental cancers
In Australia, exposure to certain chemicals or processes at workplaces or in the environment accounts for between 2 and 5 per cent of all cancer cases in Australia. Occupational cancers are, to a large degree, avoidable provided that the risk of exposure is identified, where possible removed and – if not – adequately managed. Cancer Council Victoria would like to see coordinated action at a national and state level in order to reduce this burden of harm. It is calling for measures that will effectively prevent workplace or environmental exposure to substances likely to cause cancer, as well as improvements to support for people who already have cancer that’s related to such exposures.
The following statement summarises Cancer Council Victoria’s position in relation to occupational and environmental cancer in Victoria.
Cancer Council Victoria position statement: occupational and environmental cancers
Learn more about carcinogens that could be found in your workplace
Carcinogens are cancer causing agents. Within workplaces, exposures to some carcinogens are often at higher concentrations and for longer periods of time than people in other environments. An Australian study in 2014 estimated that 3.6 million (40.3%) current Australian workers could be exposed to one or more cancer causing agents in their workplace. Some of these carcinogens are well-known to workers, such as solar ultraviolet radiation or asbestos, however many are not commonly recognised as being responsible for causing cancer, such as silica dust or diesel engine exhaust.
Cancer Council has fact sheets around various occupational carcinogens, for employers and employees. The fact sheets aim to provide information about some workplace cancer risks, what you can do about them, legal obligations and where you can go for more information. For access to these fact sheets, other resources on workplace cancer or to share your story please visit kNOw Workplace Cancer.
SunSmart in your workplace
SunSmart offers workplace education and will help you develop and implement workplace sun protection programs (including policy and compliance strategies).
Visit the SunSmart website for more information.
Quit smoking in your workplace
Quit provides support and services for workplaces, including help to develop and update smokefree policies and quit courses to help staff stop smoking.
Visit the Quit website for more information.
The Achievement Program is improving the health of Victorians by helping workplaces, schools and early childhood services create healthier environments.
It provides organisations with tools and resources to meet best-practice health standards in areas such as healthy eating, physical activity and mental health and wellbeing.
The Achievement Program is supported by the Victorian Government. Visit the Achievement Program website for more information.
The Achievement Program at Cancer Council Victoria
Cancer Council Victoria is implementing the Achievement Program as a workplace and has so far been recognised for Alcohol, Smoking and Physical Activity.