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Australian tradies aren’t protecting against skin cancer

Australia’s tradies aren’t protecting themselves from the sun even though they are exposed to up to 10 times more skin cancer-causing ultraviolet radiation (UV) than indoor workers.

Australia’s tradies aren’t protecting themselves from the sun even though they are exposed to up to 10 times more skin cancer-causing ultraviolet radiation (UV) than indoor workers.

New YouGov research, released as part of a SunSmart campaign from the Australian Government and Cancer Council, found nearly a quarter of tradies only rarely or occasionally wear sunscreen in the summer months.

In winter this drops even more, with almost half of tradies surveyed (46 per cent) only rarely or occasionally applying sunscreen.

Almost six in 10 (58 per cent) Aussie tradies surveyed know colleagues who have had skin cancer.The survey also found almost three quarters of tradies (73 per cent) admit they can’t explain how UV works, or its relationship to ‘Australia’s national cancer’.

With nine in 10 tradespeople (89 per cent) surveyed spending time outdoors on a typical workday, and over four in ten (42 per cent) spending more than four hours working outside, the Australian Government and Cancer Council are urging tradies to protect themselves against UV whenever they are outdoors.

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Chief Executive of Cancer Council Australia, Dr Tanya Buchanan, said Australia has one of the highest rates of skin cancer in the world, and regular outdoor work means that tradies are at an even higher risk than those working indoors.

“Tradies are known to have high standards when it comes to safety on site, but this data shows many aren’t fully considering sun safety as a part of their daily routines. Despite two-thirds of respondents (66 per cent) being concerned about developing skin cancer, over a fifth (22 per cent) don’t believe sunscreen is necessary every day,” Buchanan said.

“A few minutes each day to follow the 5 s’s can help prevent skin cancer caused by UV – regardless of the time of year – so it’s important for tradies to remember to be SunSmart.”

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said the Australian Government has invested in this Cancer Council campaign to help remind Australians of the 5 S’s – only two more than the vintage Slip, Slop, Slap, and give tradies and tradie organisations the tools they need to protect themselves from the dangers of UV.

A free SunSmart Tradie Toolbox has been developed for tradies to refer to before they head onto job sites and throughout the day, with SunSmart messaging that can be quickly and easily downloaded and displayed next to safety signage on job sites.

Activates Construction owners Adam and Tarah Hastie welcomed the addition of the SunSmart Tradie Toolbox, saying some simple messaging for tradies to see each day as they arrived on site was something everyone in the building and construction industry could support.

“It’s so important to make sure your hat, sunnies and sunscreen are packed as part of your everyday routine before you head off to work,” Adam Hastie said. “I’m constantly reminding myself and my trades to be careful and remember that safety comes first on-site – and that includes being SunSmart.”

Tarah Hastie said there was a range of ages, backgrounds, and personalities across Activates job sites, but the common theme of safety was non-negotiable.

“We take our work seriously and we have fun along the way, but above all, we want to see everyone arrive and leave work safely.  A few minutes each day re-applying sunscreen or putting on some sunnies goes a long way to keeping you safe now and in the future,” she said.

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