Report shows workers still exposed to risk of sun damage

The 2017 SHARC Report (Skin Health Australia Report Card) has found that more than two million outdoor workers are not being provided with any sun protection by their employers.

According to the report, 45 percent of the respondents are required to work outdoors sometimes, regularly or all the time. This is equivalent to eight million adult Australians. Fifty-seven percent of these people say their employers did not supply sunscreen, while 66 percent do not supply protective clothing and 80 percent do not provide sunglasses.

Twenty-eight percent of the respondents working outdoor were not provided any protection at all by their employers. While there has been an improvement in the last three years (down from 44 percent in 2014), there are still more than two million employees whose employers are not providing them with sun protection.

Associate Professor Chris Baker, consultant dermatologist at the Skin & Cancer Foundation Inc. said all employers should adopt sun-safe practices given the health risk to employees and their potential legal exposure.

“Two million employees left to fend for themselves for sun protection is unacceptable. Employers should be aware of their duty of care to staff when it comes to sun protection. They should consider providing, as appropriate to the workplace conditions, a suite of options: sunscreen, hats, sunglasses, long-sleeved tops,” he said.

In addition, twelve percent of survey respondents or about two million Australians have had to miss work in the past year due to a skin condition. Of those, nearly three in ten missed eleven to fifteen days because of that skin condition showing the economic impact of skin disease and a reason for employers to do more about their workers’ skin health and sun protection.

The 2017 SHARC Report is based on a national population survey of skin health commissioned by the Skin & Cancer Foundation Inc. in Melbourne.

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