Skin Patrol on job at G-MW

March 13, 2018

GMW’s general manager of corporate services Alan Arthur is championing the Skin Patrol initiative.

Goulburn-Murray Water (G-MW) is tackling skin cancer prevention head on.

The company recently brought in Skin Patrol, a mobile clinic able to provide skin checks at the workplace for staff at offices, depots and works sites across northern Victoria.

G-MW’s general manager of corporate services Alan Arthur is a Scottish native championing the initiative in the organisation.

Mr Arthur said after arriving in Australia 20 years ago he became acutely aware of his vulnerability under the harsh Australian sun.

‘‘I’ve got this pale Scottish skin, so I knew I could turn into a cancer-ridden nugget in no time at all,’’ Mr Arthur said.

‘‘Now with children of my own, I also want to set a good example to ensure they appreciate how important it is to stay protected from the sun.’’

With employee health, safety and wellbeing part of his job, Mr Arthur extended that responsibility to all staff at G-MW.

With much of the workforce routinely working outdoors to maintain infrastructure along thousands of kilometres of irrigation channel, G-MW has long had strict policies relating to sunscreen, long sleeves, long pants, protective eyewear and proper hats.

‘‘My team wanted to extend this awareness by introducing skin cancer checks,’’ Mr Arthur said.

‘‘Two out of every three Australians can expect to be diagnosed with a skin cancer by the time they are 70, so it’s a health concern for everyone whether we work outdoors or not.’’

In two recent visits, Skin Patrol specialists saw 395 G-MW employees in confidential, one-on-one checks.

Of these staff, 80 were found to have severe sun-damaged skin, while 30 others were referred for further investigation.

Mr Arthur said he was one of the 30 staff referred for further tests, but after a few nervous days of waiting he was given the all clear.

Following the success of the program, Mr Arthur said G-MW was interested in partnering with other businesses in future Skin Patrol clinics.

‘‘This may in particular help smaller organisations who would otherwise not have the capacity to run such a program,’’ he said.

He relates the success of the program to its convenience as well as an increased awareness of making skin cancer checks a normal health routine.

‘‘It is a difficult thing to say no to, after all if it’s offered at your workplace, in your work time and at no charge — you really don’t have an excuse not to have a check done.’’

- Liz Mellino

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