• Open Access

Occupational exposure to solar radiation in Australia: who is exposed and what protection do they use?


  • The authors have stated they have no conflict of interest.


Objective: Solar ultraviolet radiation (UVR) exposure is widely recognised as a leading cause of skin cancer, with outdoor workers being particularly at risk. Little is known on a national level about how many workers are exposed to solar radiation, the circumstances in which they are exposed, or their use of protective measures.

Methods: The Australian Work Exposures Study (AWES) was a cross-sectional telephone survey of 5,023 Australian workers aged 18 to 65. A subset of 1,113 respondents who indicated they worked outdoors was asked about their exposure to solar radiation in terms of the amount of time they spent working outdoors, their working location and their use of sun protective measures.

Results: A total of 1,100 respondents (22% overall) were assessed as being exposed to solar radiation at work. Exposure was more likely among males and those residing in lower socioeconomic and regional areas. Sun protection was used by 95% of the respondents, although the level of protection varied among workers, with only 8.7% classified as fully protected.

Conclusions: This study provides valuable information regarding solar exposure that has not previously been available.

Implications: The results of this study will inform strategies for risk reduction.