UV radiation - the hidden outdoor hazard
23 December 2021
Waikanae-based builder and joiner Phil Morgan (Te Whānau-ā-Apanui), 41, says he’s conscious of the need to check his skin monthly and go to his GP if there are new spots or changes in the shape, colour or size of any existing spots or moles.
After years in the building industry, Phil established his company Morgancraft Construction Ltd in 2018. For Phil, who’s now a sole trader and solo dad of four young children, looking after his health means looking after his whanau. “Protecting my skin means protecting my livelihood and my family,” he says.
Establishing his own company led to looking into his entitlements as a business owner and understanding what business purchases are tax-deductible. “As I’m self-employed, it’s good to know that sun protection items are tax-deductible for outdoor workers.”
Harmful UV rays, while not immediately obvious, are one of the biggest risks for outdoor workers. People who work outside receive up to 10 times more UV radiation exposure than indoor workers, putting them at high risk of developing skin cancer.
Cancer Society Medical Director Dr Kate Gregory says: “Skin cancer is the most common cancer in Aotearoa New Zealand. Unfortunately, many outdoor workers in New Zealand are not provided adequate shade or are not wearing adequate sun protection equipment even though these actions can make a real difference in reducing the risk of skin cancers.
Most skin cancers can be treated successfully if caught early. “It is so important for everyone, particularly those spending large amounts of time outdoors to regularly check their skin,” says Dr Gregory. “And remember that you cannot see or feel UV radiation— it can be harmful even on a cool or cloudy day.
“Because UV damage accumulates over time, we recommend that outdoor workers use sun protection year-round. Be particularly careful from September to April between the hours of 10am-4pm when UV levels are high.”