One in four skin cancer deaths from those working outdoors

A campaign has been launched for the summer months

One in four skin cancer deaths from those working outdoors

Construction workers are pictured on their lunch break | Image: RollingNews.ie

The Irish Cancer Society (ICS) says almost one in four  of skin cancer deaths in Ireland are from the construction, outdoor and the farming industry.

It has launched its annual SunSmart campaign, teaming up with the Irish Farmer’s Association (IFA) and the Construction Industry Federation (CIF).

The ICS says Irish farmers and construction workers need to be extra vigilant during the summer months.

It also pointed to UK research, which showed that working in the sun could lead to one death and around five melanoma cases a week.

The report, published in the British Journal of Cancer, said that construction workers diagnosed with melanoma skin cancer had the highest number of deaths (four in 10), followed by agriculture workers (over two in 10).

Cancer prevention manager with the ICS, Kevin O'Hagan, said: "Figures from the CSO show that in 2014, we had around one death every week in Ireland that is related to sun exposure at work.

"Coupled with the research from the UK, it shows just how extensive, and unfortunately fatal, sun damage can be for outdoor workers.

"It’s vital that we pay heed to this in Ireland this summer.

"You don't have to be in a Mediterranean country for the sun to do damage to your skin and Irish people need to wise up to that. It would be really useful if work places whose employees work predominately outdoors did a risk assessment and put in place policy in relation to protection from sun exposure".

Every year in Ireland, over 10,000 people are diagnosed with skin cancer.

Recent figures show that more men than women were diagnosed, with 5,979 men receiving a diagnosis in 2013 compared with 4,796 women.

IFA President Joe Healy added: "Farmers are outdoors from sunrise to sunset, and very often have no protection on their skin so are very vulnerable to skin cancer.

"We want to encourage farmers to reduce their risk of sun damage by organising their day so that they are in the shade between 11am and 3pm and checking their skin regularly for changes."

While Tom Parlon, director-General of the CIF, said: "Our members work in all weathers and trades like bricklayers and labourers spend a huge amount of time in direct sunlight.

"This is our first year partnering with the Irish Cancer Society's campaign and we are determined to do all we can to spread the SunSmart message among our members. It’s too serious not to."

Both organisations have also produced a leaflet for their respective members on how to be safe in the sun and how to reduce their risk of skin cancer.

The leaflets will be distributed to farming and construction families and at trade events throughout the summer.