Outdoor workers often do physically demanding jobs, whether laying bricks or rolling bitumen to keep our cars on the road. And yet despite their contribution to Australia’s economy, many outdoor workers may be exposed to a future risk of skin cancer in the course of their work, with few employers providing outdoor staff with vital sun protection.

New Cancer Council research shows among the 2.5 million Aussies who spend half or more of their working time outdoors – only half are employed by a workplace with a sun protection policy.

Statistics show only one in two outdoor workers are given sunscreen for protection, less than one in three are provided with portable shade, and only two in five are given suitable hats to wear.

Many Australian workplaces simply aren’t doing enough to protect their employees from the sun while on the job. It’s a significant health and safety risk.

Every year, around 34,000 non-melanoma skin cancers and about 200 melanomas diagnosed in Australia are linked to the workplace environment, with outdoor workers facing an increased risk of deadly skin cancer.

While individual responsibility is important, so too is employer support for the sun health and safety of outdoor works. Put simply, sun protection should be a tool of the trade.

Sunscreen, hats, protective clothing and portable shade are just as important to workplace safety as shoes or high visibility clothing. Whether Australian workers are involved in building and construction, farming, or retail, sun protection is vital.

Outdoor workers are exposed to UV for longer periods of time throughout their working life and get significantly more UV radiation than indoor workers.

In Queensland – the risk of skin damage is high all year round. When the UV Index is three or above (which it is most days in our Sunshine State) sun protection is required when outdoors).

Next time you’re heading outside on the job – check the UV (download our free SunSmart app to track the level in real time), slip on a protective shirt, slop on SPF 30+ or above broad-spectrum sunscreen and slap on a hat.

To find out more about sun protection in the workplace, check out Cancer Council’s QUEST program via www.quest.org.au.