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Tradies at higher risk of skin cancer


April 2018

More than half of Australia’s tradie workforce is putting comfort before safety.

To combat the searing Australian heat, 51 per cent of tradies told ServiceSeeking they opt to wear shorts and t-shirts to work to stay cool despite the dangers of not only sunburn but from high-powered equipment.

According to the Cancer Council NSW's Skin Cancer Prevention Manager Liz King, two in three people who grow up in Australia will get skin cancer in their lifetime.

"Tradies are at a higher risk of developing skin cancer due to being exposed to the sun for extended periods of time," says Ms King. "Men over 40 are also at greater risk – they are twice as likely to die from melanoma as women of the same age."

In NSW, UV levels are high enough to damage unprotected skin most days of the year, even on cloudy and cold days. Being outdoors all year round, Safe Work Australia recommends that tradies use sun protection all year round due to the damage UV can do to skin which is exposed to UV for extended periods.

"It is inevitable that many tradies have to work in the sun, but setting up a routine that protects your skin from harmful UV rays is easy with the right gear and the right attitude," says Ms King. "Download the free SunSmart app if you want to know more about UV and check UV levels in your local area every day."

Older workers have wised up more to the dangers of potential skin cancer problems from long term exposure to the sun with 42 per cent of Baby Boomers opting for long pants and shirts compared to just 23 per cent of Generation X and 29 per cent of Generation Y.

"Many of those who have wised up have probably had personal experience and know first-hand the dangers they face. So maybe next time you have a tradie at your place, in addition to asking if they’d like a drink of water on a hot day, you could also ask if they’d like some sunscreen," says ServiceSeeking CEO Jeremy Levitt.

And there’s a simple way for tradies to reduce their risk: simply covering up will lower their chance of being sunburnt and most can claim up to $300 in sun protective workwear on their tax return.


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