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Building a Sun Smart Work Culture

As North Queenslanders, we are blessed with an abundance of endless sunny days and blue skies. However, this has resulted in Townsville having one of the highest skin cancer rates in the world, making melanoma the second most common cancer in the region.  

Whilst organisations with predominantly outdoor workforces have adopted sun safety methods as part of their Workplace Health and Safety processes, office-based businesses often fail to consider just how much sun employees are exposed to during work hours.

Director of Skin Repair Skin Cancer Clinic, Dr Helena Rosengren, says 95% of skin cancer cases in the region are caused by incidental sun exposure, and encourages business owners and employees to be more vigilant about sun safety.

“Townsville’s UV rate is among the highest in the world, and many people are living under the dangerous assumption that because they work in-doors they are not at risk of developing skin cancer,” says Dr Rosengren.

“Think about how often employees are exposed to the sun when driving, attending an outdoor site inspection, walking to a meeting or grabbing lunch. 

“It’s important to remember that all sun exposure, no matter how small, adds up and has the potential to be harmful.”

Dr Rosengren offers the following suggestions to incorporate sun safety in your business modeling and build awareness about skin cancer prevention and protection. 

Dr Helena Rosengren with patient.
  1. Develop a Sun Smart Work Culture

Share your vision with your team and educate them on the importance of sun safety to reduce the risk of skin cancer. Develop your organisation’s sun safe guidelines and include them as part of your Workplace Health & Safety Manual and onboarding process. 

  • Consider sun smart in uniform design

Sun protective clothing plays a huge part in minimising your staff’s risk of skin cancer, so consider this when designing your uniform. If there is no uniform, create a sun smart uniform culture by encouraging your employees to wear full coverage clothing that provides protection throughout the day. 

  • Make sunscreen easily accessible 

Did you know the risk of developing a melanoma is decreased by 50% when you apply sunscreen daily? By making sunscreen easily accessible and placing it in a central office location – like the bathroom or shared kitchen space – employees can easily apply some if they unexpectedly have to run out to a meeting. 

  • Arm sleeves for driving 

Australians are more susceptible to developing skin cancer on the right side, specifically the right arm due to it being known as our “driving arm.” Tinted windows can only do so much, so if your staff are required to drive frequently during the work day, consider purchasing arm sleeves to pop on whilst you’re driving or spending time outdoors. 

  • Have a designated spot for staff hats while at work. 

Consider installing a hat rack, hooks or shelf to encourage your staff to keep a hat at the office so they are readily available for use each day.

Skin Repair Skin Cancer Clinic is currently contributing an additional $5.00* per digital footprint purchased from the Townsville region for Melanoma March.  All Aussies are asked to step up and leave their footprint on melanoma by buying a $30 digital footprint to cover Australia and help the Melanoma Institute Australia reach zero deaths from melanoma.  Purchase your footprint before 31 March at

*Up to the value of $10,000.

By Georgie Desailly.

Image Credit: Cancer Council Australia.

Georgie Desailly

Georgie Desailly

Georgie is BDmag’s resident writer who is passionate about entrepreneurship, sustainability and regional affairs. She is preparing to study with The School of The New York Times later this year before commencing her journalism qualifications.