Roofing Contractors & Construction Workers
Recent Studies show outdoor workers and roofing contractors are in high risk areas.
Australia has one of the highest cases of skin cancer in the world. According to statistics, 2 out of 3 Australians will develop a form of skin cancer before they reach 70 years old. Within Australia, 2,000 die from skin cancer each year, and 2,000 are being treated for it daily. Outdoor workers, especially roofing contractors as they work in unprotected areas with direct sunlight, receive 5 to 10 times the amount of Ultraviolet (UV) radiation compared to the average citizen. This means that a roofing contractor’s risk of developing cancer is monstrously higher compared to the average Australian.
A recent study done by Cancer Council Queensland, Curtin University and Queensland University Of Technology shows that people who work in the public sectors, farming and construction industry believe that they will develop skin cancer in the future. However, the numbers could be higher for industries such as roofing as they are among the most sun-exposed workers without any protection.
Skin Cancer Belief
Cancer statistics show that Australia, especially Queensland, has among the highest occurrence of skin cancer in the world. The threat is even greater for roofing contractors who toil all day working in the sun. What is even more disturbing is that at least 70% of the contractors believe that they will develop skin cancer in the future. Almost half of the number believes they already have skin cancer. Some have even had moles or spots removed out of such belief.
There Is A Need For Policies
The number of building industry contractors believe the statistics are shocking to say the least. It’s a pragmatic view and it needs to be addressed as soon as possible. “This means that there is a need for a follow up on our workers not only for the mental health, but for actually making the workplace a safer place” quoted Trevor Bransden from Pro Build Roofing Brisbane.
Burden Of Responsibility
- Policy Makers
- Individual Contractors
- Company Enforcement
There are policies set in place to protect the roofing contractors and construction personal. However, according to a study, nearly half of those policies are not enforced. The burden of responsibility for making each contractor safe lies in the protection of policy makers, individual workers and the workplace employers. Policies like readily available sunscreen, wearing of protective clothing and enough shade is important for the safety of the workers. Also, contractors need to be educated that they have a responsibility becoming “sun smart”. Lastly, each workplace should also be responsible enough to enforce these policies. “This is very important as the research shows that only half of the roofing contractors have sun protection workplace policies, and only half of those enforce those policies” added Mr Bransden.
Importance Of Sunscreen
When it comes to protecting tradesman from the sun, policies should be set to cover as most grounds, or skin, as possible. Among the primary line of defense is putting on a sunscreen lotion. There is a belief that tradespeople have little care about lotions as it is a “woman thing”. This might be true at some point and, hopefully, in the future it won’t be. According to a non-scientific research, after educating a small group of contractors, the sunscreen lotions placed at the workplace are being snatched-up and there is a demand for more. The older workers were the first adopters as they have seen the evidence and heard some stories about skin cancer. To make the workplace safer for contractors, a policy should be set that sunscreen should be readily available and education in the roofing industry and other at risk workers should be mandatory.
Providing enough shade for roofing constructors is another good way of protecting them from the sun. However, providing shade may be difficult, especially if the work involves high and wide spaces. Nevertheless, a policy should be set that enough shade should be provided in any way possible and as much as possible.
Another issue that needs to be dealt is sun exposure times. Australia receives one of the highest amounts of UV radiation. It is suggested that tradesman should limit to their exposure to UV peak times of the day. It’s been said that 10 minutes exposure limit during peak times is strongly suggested. For the summer months where UV radiation is at the highest in a year, 3 minutes exposure limit is also strongly suggested.
- Long Sleeves
- Wraparound Glasses
- Cloth Neck Covers
- Wide Brimmed Hats
Another line of defense that proves to significantly reduce the risk of skin cancer is clothing protection. The most important thing is that the men are wearing adequate protective clothing while working under the sun. For example, long sleeves and wraparound sunglasses should be a must. There is a newly designed cloth flap, which can be secured to a hard hat or a cap, that serves to cover and protect the back and shoulders is also strongly suggested.
Companies At The Sun Protection Forefront
According to Mr Bransden, “I have learned about the skin cancer issue from the office in the past. While I know that sun exposure is really an issue here in Australia, but what shocked me is the high percentage of workers believing that they will get skin cancer in the future or think they already have one. This is a cause for concern as quality work can only be achieved if the contractors put 100% of their efforts to their work and that includes physical and mental effort. We never neglected this issue and placed it as one of our priorities. Now, we have company policies to ensure that our workers are only receiving safe amounts of sunlight. This is not an effort just to show that we care about our employees, it is also an effort to reduce future medical expenses that might be shouldered by the company. Its a win-win situation for our company and our workers”.
Skin Cancer is a real threat for both the roofing trade and other construction and building industries as they receive 5 to 10 times the amount of UV radiation compared to the average Australian. This must be addressed for the safety of everyone involved. Policy makers, individuals and companies should set policies or make an effort to reduce the risk of skin cancer. Policies like mandatory sunscreen application and education, shade protection, exposure limit and protective clothing must be introduced. Recognition of companies at the forefront of sun protection, should be publicly recognized as this can motivate other companies to do the same.
For more information and advice on sun protection for roofing and construction workers you can visit http://www.sunsmart.com.au/