Australians are no strangers to the dangers of the sun. For decades we’ve been told to slip on a shirt, slop on sun screen and slap on a hat.
It’s a catchy phrase, but it hasn’t stopped around 2,000 of us dying annually from skin cancer. And it hasn’t stopped melanoma from becoming our nation’s third most common cancer.
So, what will it take to get the message through? And what can employers do to safeguard their workers?
Sun exposure is the leading cause of skin cancer so it’s no surprise that Australia has one of the highest incidences of skin cancer in the world.
Statistically, almost 70 per cent of us will be affected by the disease by the time we reach 70, and those who work outdoors are especially at risk.
For workers in the building and construction industry, being out in the elements is par for the course. For employers, there is both a duty of care and a solid business case for investing in preventative measures that reduce the risk of skin cancer to the workforce. It’s not just about avoiding sunburn — more importantly, it’s about saving lives.
Victorian worker Michael McCrea was knocked for six when a suspicious spot found during a workplace Skin Check turned out to be melanoma.
“I was told it was melanoma and that it was to be removed immediately,” he said. “We’d never heard the word melanoma before in my family, and all of sudden, I’ve got one. Yeah, I certainly didn’t feel too at ease.”
For Michael, early intervention meant his melanoma was able to be successfully treated — it could have been a different story had he not had a workplace skin check.
Michael’s experience echoes that of many workers who are either not able to visit a doctor during work hours, or don’t go because they don’t recognise the signs of skin cancer.
This reality prompted Victorian construction industry redundancy fund Incolink to partner with mobile dermatology clinic Skin Patrol to deliver skin checks at construction sites across Victoria and Tasmania.
The Incolink Skin Checks program is specifically designed to minimise disruption on busy construction sites. Each skin check takes around 15 minutes and workers receive their results on the spot. Any suspicious lesions are photographed, digitally mapped and sent off for diagnosis. If further treatment is required, this is part of the service.
The most important message for workers and employers is that early detection saves lives.
Incolink has been providing health and wellbeing services to the Victorian construction industry for 30 years.
To learn more about Incolink Skin Checks, visit here or contact David Cronin on 03 9668 3067.