Sun safety on farms
If you’re over 65 years old you’re twice as likely as other Australians to die from a skin cancer.
The majority of skin cancers are caused by over exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun.
Most farm work is conducted outside which means that throughout your life as a farmer, you have greater exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation than the average person.
The good news is that skin cancers like melanoma can be prevented and if detected and treated early, there is a good chance you’ll recover.
NSW has high levels of UV radiation, especially from October to March.
When UV levels are 3 and above, sun protection is recommended. We can’t see or feel UV radiation and it can be high even on cool or cloudy days.
You can use the Ultraviolet radiation index or the SunSmart app which is compatible with iPhone, iPad and Android devices to check UV levels in your area. You can also find the index in the weather section of your local newspaper.
To reduce the risk of skin cancer you should:
- wear protective clothing, a broad brimmed hat and wrap around sunglasses whenever you’re outside
- apply SPF 50+ or 30+ sunscreen around 20 minutes before going outside and re-apply every two hours or more if perspiring heavily
- seek shade whenever you can or put up demountable shade
- check your skin regularly and if you notice anything unusual such as spots that won’t go away, get them checked immediately by a health professional
- create a sun protection plan so everyone knows what’s expected of them.
Glenn, a second generation farmer from Junee Reefs in western NSW is a melanoma survivor. He recalls how the diagnosis changed his life.
$500 rebate available
Employers have a duty of care to protect themselves and their staff from the effects of UV radiation as it is a known carcinogen.
Viv Miller, a cattle farmer from Wallarobba, approximately 70km north of Newcastle knows all too well about the dangers of the sun after having numerous close calls with melanoma during her life. A SafeWork NSW rebate helped her install a shade cover to provide protection from the intense heat and UV radiation.
- Cancer Council’s skin cancer and outdoor work: A guide for employers
- Heat - Working in extreme heat
- Sun protection policy for outdoor workers
- Skin cancer and outdoor workers
- Outdoor workers can protect themselves in five ways
- Hot and cold work environments
- for farmers: National Farmers Federation (NFF)
- for commercial fish operations owners: Commonwealth Fisheries Association (CFA)
- for forest products growers and support: Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA)
- for agriculture and fisheries workers: Australian Workers’ Union (AWU)
- for forestry workers: The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU).