Outdoor worker sun protection project

Outdoor workers are at high risk of excessive exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun. Thus, sun safe behaviour in the workplace is vital. The QUT Outdoor Worker Sun Protection Project aimed to improve the sun protection strategies provided to and used by outdoor workers in Queensland, Australia using a participatory action research-driven health promotion program. Data was obtained from employers and employees pre- and post-intervention.

The research team worked with workplaces to develop a comprehensive sun protection action plan. The plans contained a mix of strategies tailored to their specific needs and workplace environment. Over 12 to 18 months we provided ongoing support to workplaces to make sure they could successfully implement sustainable solutions.

The effectiveness of each plan has been evaluated by looking at improvements in the workplace’s environment and structures, and changes in worker sun safe behaviour. The costs incurred by each workplace participating in the project have also been examined.

Why did the project focus on sun protection and outdoor workers?

  • The sun’s UV Radiation can cause sunburn, skin cancer, eye damage and premature skin ageing.
  • Skin cancer is the most common of all cancers and is also the most preventable.
  • Queensland, the “Sunshine State,” has the highest rate of skin cancer in the world.
  • Two in three Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer by the time they are 70.
  • People who work outdoors for all or part of the day have a higher than average risk of skin cancer.
  • Outside workers typically receive five to 10 times more sun exposure yearly than indoor
  • In 2010 a landmark six figure payout was given to a widow and her four young sons after
    her construction worker husband died at age 43 from skin cancer.

QUT collaborated with Cancer Council Queensland and Curtin University of Technology (WA) on this project which was funded by Queensland Health.

Funding / Grants

  • Queensland Health (2010 – 2013)

Other Team Members

  • Dr Phil Crane
  • Prof Mary-Lou Fleming
  • A/Prof Nice Graves
  • Prof Michael Kimlin
  • Dr Margo Sendall
  • Dr Melissa Stoneham
  • Dr Thomas Tenkate
  • Ms Philippa Youl