As we head into the warmer months here in Australia, it’s important to remember that extensive exposure to the sun, can be detrimental to our health and we need to be sun safe. It’s no secret that the suns’ UV rays can cause skin cancer, and in some cases, melanoma. Melanoma is the 4th most diagnosed cancer in Australia, with men receiving a higher number of diagnosis than women. A recent study by Safe Work Australia found that 86% of workers in the construction industry are exposed to UV radiation. In fact, Molemap found that those working in construction, agriculture, offices with large windows and aircrafts are exposed to the greatest amount of Ultraviolet Radiation. While we are aware of the risks associated with UV radiation, Melanoma is still the #1 cancer in young people aged 15-39. What can you do to ensure you are protected from the suns rays while at work?
Ask any Aussie kid the question ‘How can you be sun safe’, and they will probably come back to you with “Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek, Slide“. It’s one of the most publicised social marketing campaigns in Australia, but how does this translate to you?
Slip – Slip on protective clothes to cover as much of your skin as possible. Think about wearing long sleeved shirts and long pants. You also need to be aware of which areas are not covered – this is commonly your ears, neck, face and hands.
Slop – Slop on some sunscreen on to all your exposed skin. Australian guidelines recommend using SPF50+ sunscreen because it filters 98% of UV radiation, compared to SPF30+ which only filters 96.7%. Sunscreen should be applied 20 minutes before venturing in the sun, and reapplied every two hours.
Slap– Slap on a broad rimmed hat. Broad rimmed hats cover a greater surface area, protecting more skin. This can be a difficult task for those in professions requiring protective hard hats. Whilst they look like a hat, they may not necessarily provide the sun protection necessary for your face and neck. Detachable hat brims can be purchased to connect with a hard hat, providing further face and neck coverage.
Seek – Where you don’t have to be in the sun, seek out some shade. Use this time to rehydrate and reapply your sunscreen
Slide – Slide on some sunglasses. Don’t forget that your eyes can be sunburnt too. Get yourself some polarised sunglasses and give your eyes a rest.
For best results, these steps should all be used in conjunction with each other. Be aware of the conditions you are working in to limit your sun exposure, and be sun safe!