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Giving construction workers the right tools to prevent skin cancer

Posted on Feb 22, 2023

Construction workers don’t go on site unless they’ve got all the right equipment.

High Vis, protective headwear, gloves, harnesses, and anchors are part of our occupational health and safety arsenal, protecting workers in case of slips and falls, moving objects and equipment and other hazards.

But what about the sun?

The UV risk to workers

Workers who spend large parts of the day outdoors are exposed to up to 10 times the UV radiation as indoor workers, dramatically increasing their chances of sun damage and skin cancer, including deadly melanoma.

SunSmart toolboxes

That’s why Incolink has partnered with the Cancer Council of Victoria to roll out SunSmart Tradie Toolboxes across 40 of the state’s biggest construction sites.

The 15 to 20-minute Toolbox talks seek to educate workers of the risks associated with working outdoors and the steps they can take to protect themselves. Led by a Cancer Council expert, sessions will cover the five forms of sun protection, how to check skin for skin cancer and what to do if you notice a new or changing spot.

Incolink CEO Erik Locke said he was looking forward to the initiative saving lives.

“Two in three Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer in their lifetime, with approximately 2000 Australians lose their lives each year – that’s more than eight times the number of people who died on Victoria’s roads in 2022. - Erik Locke, Incolink CEO

The research

“Yet research by the Cancer Council has revealed there are significant gaps in people’s knowledge and understanding of their own risk factors for developing skin cancer and too many people are blasé when it comes to protecting themselves from the sun.

“Fortunately, 95 per cent of skin cancers are preventable if we do the right things, such as wearing sunscreen and protective clothing, scheduling outdoor tasks earlier or later in the day when possible, and taking breaks in the shade.”

Launching the SunSmart Toolboxes

The Paula Fox Melanoma and Cancer Centre at The Alfred, which is currently under construction, was among the first sites to be inducted under the new initiative earlier this month.

Will Gullifer, construction manager with Kane Constructions, said the organisation employed more than 450 full-time employees, with many of them spending significant periods working outside.

“Skin cancer is not something that you want to mess around with,” he said.

“As an employer, we feel a responsibility to ensure our staff are safe and protected while at work, and that includes from the harsh elements.” - Will Gullifer, Kane Constructions

Mr Locke welcomed the SunSmart Tradie Toolbox talks as an extension of the health and wellbeing initiatives backed by Incolink, such as on-site health checks and the award-winning Bluehats suicide prevention program.

“The workplace plays a critical role when it comes to getting important health and wellbeing messages and support to workers,” he said.

“We are pleased to be working with the Cancer Council of Victoria and Kane Constructions on this initiative and look forward to more builders getting on board.”

Register your interest

Register your interest for a SunSmart toolbox to come to your site here.

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