The Irish Cancer Society is calling on outdoor workers to be extra vigilant about sun protection this summer, as almost one in four (23%) skin cancer deaths in Ireland are from the construction, outdoor and farming industry.
The Society has teamed up with the Irish Congress of Trade Unions to advise workers on how to reduce their risk of skin cancer.
Kevin O’Hagan, Cancer Prevention Manager with the Irish Cancer Society said the dangers can be overlooked: “Figures from the CSO show that in 2016, we had over 60 deaths in Ireland which were related to sun exposure at work. That is more than one death a week.
“The dangers of skin cancer in these industries have often been neglected, because the risk of accidental death and injury on the job is considered higher and more immediate. However long-term exposure to the invisible hazard of the sun’s ultraviolet rays puts outdoor workers at a high risk of skin cancer.”
Every year in Ireland, it is estimated that almost 12,000 people are diagnosed with skin cancer, and figures show that more men than women were diagnosed.
Congress General Secretary Patricia King added: “Workers need to take every precaution in protecting their skin while exposed to the sun, and should be supported in doing so by their employers.
“We would also call on employers to put in place robust policies to ensure that outdoor workers, such as builders, postal workers or fisherman are adequately protected. At a minimum they should be following the Health & Safety Authority guidelines. We would encourage all of our members to ensure they are being SunSmart this summer. It could save a life.”
The SunSmart Code:
- SEEK SHADE: when UV rays are at their strongest – generally between 11am and 3pm.
- COVER UP: by wearing a shirt with a collar and long shorts. Also wear a hat that gives shade to your face, neck and ears.
- WEAR WRAPAROUND SUNGLASSES: make sure they give UV protection.
- SLOP ON SUNSCREEN: Use sunscreen with SPF30 or higher and UVA protection 20 minutes before going outside and re-apply every two hours – more often if swimming or perspiring.
- CHECK the UV index – www.cancer.ie/uvindex
- Keep babies under six months out of the sun.