Check it out
You may love working in it, but sun can be a killer. As part of our on-going mission to ensure all roofers have a safe environment to work in, RANZ has reached out to MoleMap to provide discounted skin checking services to our members.
BY ALEX NEWFIELD
Like many New Zealanders I have lost a family member to Skin Cancer. It was rapid – only a matter of months from the time his wife urged him to get a strange-looking mole on his back checked, to moving into palliative care. It shocked his family and everyone they knew to witness how aggressive the Melanoma developed and destroyed a healthy, fit, father-of-one in his early forties. Inevitably a lot of questions were asked. How did he get it? When did it happen? What could have been done to prevent it? And while Doctors couldn’t answer many of these questions, it is a fact that earlier detection would have given him a better chance.
Skin cancer is by far the most common type of cancer in New Zealand, and we have the highest rates of Melanoma in the world.
• Two out of three kiwis will be diagnosed with a skin cancer
• One in fifteen will develop Melanoma
• 400 kiwis die from Melanoma every year
• The most common part of the body for Kiwi men to develop Melanoma is the back (around 40%)
• The most common part of the body for Kiwi women to develop Melanoma is the leg (around 65%)
• Men have a higher overall incidence of Melanoma than women
• Death rates are higher among men (56%)
• These rates appear to be increasing, especially in males aged 45-plus
These statistics don’t make pleasant reading for Kiwi men who work outdoors, such as, for example, roofers! Many of us have memories of long, hot summer days spent working hard on roofs… with the prospect of acquiring a ‘healthy’ bronzed tan being one of the perks of the job for young labourers. And while many of us now work with our shirts on, this is mainly to cover the effects of poor diets and lack of exercise, not because we understand the dangers of sunburn.
Sunburn is a type of UV radiation burn that damages the skin cells. This damage can lead to abnormal growth of those cells and, over time, may become cancerous. Therefore, because the Health & Safety at Work Act 2015 dictates that employers must ensure workers are not put at risk by the work they do, anybody working outdoors must control the risks posed by over-exposure to UV. The preferred control is ‘elimination’ of the risk, but this is extremely difficult for roofers, as working at night-time brings other challenges (eg high cost of night-vision goggles). Therefore, limiting exposure to UV radiation through the use of hats, clothing and sunscreens is most widely utilised.
Just like smoking in planes, driving without a seatbelt, or working on a roof with no edge protection, working outdoors without sun protection needs to become another thing we can’t believe used to be widely accepted as an OK thing to do. Early detection of Melanomas provides the best chance of beating it. So, regular screening should become a part of any roofing company’s Health and Safety policy.
Skin checks should be undertaken by a professional accredited skin cancer expert. The skin check needs to be a head to toe check as melanoma can present in areas that have not had any sun exposure. A dermatologist should do any diagnosis. Dermatologists have trained and specialised in the field of skin, they are medical experts. GPs are generalists dealing with many medical issues; they often do not have the time to thoroughly check the skin and are often not confident in their diagnosis “if in doubt just cut it out”.
Recognising the risk exposure to UV radiation poses to our members, the Roofing Association of New Zealand have reached out to MoleMap to provide discounted skin checking services to our member companies. MoleMap have been checking skin for over 21 years – it is all they do and they do it thoroughly. They have 40 clinics nationwide, or they can come out to your offices or worksite.
Checks are performed by expert Melanographers – experienced Registered Nurses who are specially training in detecting skin cancers. During any MoleMap screening advanced dermascopic cameras are used to look deep under the skin. Any images taken during the examination are reviewed and diagnosed by an accredited Dermatologist. Also, as MoleMap is impartial to surgery, no mole will be recommended to be removed unless it is absolutely necessary.
Article published in RoofLink Spring 2019.