New research from the Skin and Cancer Foundation has found that despite years of sun safety messages, some employers are not providing adequate sun protection for their workers.
While 55 per cent of Australian adults are employed in jobs that regularly, or always require them to be outdoors, almost a third of employees required to work outside report that their employers do not provide sun protection.
In the Foundation’s “2016 Skin Health Australia Report Card (SHARC Report)”, 52 per cent of outdoor workers said their employers do not provide sunscreen and 65 per cent do not provide protective clothing.
Associate professor Chris Baker, immediate past president of the foundation, said it was crucial that employers took a comprehensive approach to the prevention of sun damage to their employees who work outside.
“As with all workplace health and safety issues, it is prudent to adopt a risk management approach – with the objective of minimising the risk of sun damage in the workplace.
“That means employers having thought about necessary sun protection measures and having them available to the workers.”
Professor Baker was pleased, however, at the overall drop in the percentage of workers claiming their employers did not provide sun protection – reducing from 44 per cent in 2014 to 30 per cent in 2016.
“The message does seem to be getting out there,” he said.
“Yet with 30 per cent of employers still not providing any sun protection for their workers, they are exposing themselves and their workers to significant and unnecessary risks.”
The report also found that more employers are providing sunscreen (rising from 35 per cent in 2014 to 48 per cent in 2016) as well as moisturiser to act as a skin barrier and repair for employees at risk of skin dryness and irritation.
Andrew Farr, accredited specialist workplace relations and safety partner from PwC, was less optimistic about the figures, and was “bewildered” at the number of employers still not taking any action at all to protect employees from sun damage.
“State OHS/WHS legislation and regulations are clear on the responsibilities of employers to provide and maintain a safe working environment and to minimise risk to health for all employees and any contractors,” he said.
“While workers also have a responsibility for their own wellbeing, employers are exposing employees to unnecessary risk if they’re not providing adequate – and ideally comprehensive – protection from the sun, if their job requires outdoors work.
“It’s a workplace risk that employers cannot ignore.”
Employers called to take action on sun safety. Available from <https://safetowork.com.au/employers-called-to-take-action-on-sun-safety/> [