Outdoor workers urged to be SunSmart as they have a higher risk of developing skin cancer

  • Outdoor workers exposed to 2-3 times more UV radiation than people who work indoors
  • Free webinar to support outdoor workers and their employers to reduce the risk of skin cancer

The HSE’S National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP), Healthy Ireland, and the Construction Industry Federation (CIF) have teamed up to support builders and outdoor workers to be aware of an invisible hazard: the sun’s ultraviolet radiation (UV). This includes workers in construction and farming industries, as well as postal, landscaping and the public service.

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in Ireland, with almost 13,000 cases diagnosed annually. The number of people being diagnosed with skin cancer in Ireland is rising rapidly. Yet skin cancer is largely preventable by protecting skin from UV.

If you work outdoors, you are exposed to 2-3 times more UV radiation from the sun than people who work indoors, putting you at higher risk of developing skin cancer. Those who spend all or part of the day regularly working outdoors can reduce their risk of skin cancer by protecting their skin by being SunSmart.

To increase awareness of how to be SunSmart, the HSE’s NCCP and CIF are hosting a free public webinar called ‘Skin Cancer and Protection for Outdoor Workers’ on World Day for Safety and Health at Work on Thursday, 28th April at 4pm.

Guest speaker at the webinar is Dr Cheryl Peters, University of Calgary, Canada, who is the Senior Scientist for Cancer Prevention at the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control and BC Cancer in Vancouver and is a national expert in occupational UV exposure in Canada. This webinar will help to raise awareness and support outdoor workers and their employers to reduce the risk of skin cancer.

Dr Triona McCarthy, Director in Public Health Medicine, HSE’s NCCP says: “Outdoor workers need to protect themselves, and employers should be aware of their responsibility to protect their workers. Tips for employers and workers need to be practical, since we can’t eliminate sun exposure. The SunSmart campaign is working with outdoor worker organisations to raise awareness of how to protect outdoor workers from UV radiation from the sun in the workplace.”

The Construction Industry Federation (CIF), is supporting the Healthy Ireland SunSmart campaign and helping to raise awareness of the importance of protecting outdoor workers from UV radiation from the sun in the workplace.

Dermot Carey, Director for Safety and Training, CIF says: “One of the common attractions for those working in construction is the opportunity to travel and to work outdoors. However, those engaged in outdoor activities need to take additional precautions against the risk of skin damage from prolonged exposure to the sun. The CIF is calling on construction workers to be SunSmart by following the advice of Healthy Ireland”.

The Healthy Ireland SunSmart 5 S’s show outdoor workers and their employers how they can help reduce their risk of skin cancers by following these tips:

  1. Slip on clothing that covers your skin such as possible - long sleeves, collared t-shirts.
  2. Slop on sunscreen: Use sunscreen SPF minimum 30 or higher. Apply 20 minutes before going outside and re-apply every two hours – more often if sweating.
  3. Slap on a wide brimmed hat.
  4. Seek Shade - especially if outdoors between 11am to 3pm when UV rays are at their strongest. Plan your work outdoors early in the morning or late afternoon to avoid the peak UV sunrays. Use trees or portable shade for break times and lunch.
  5. Slide on wraparound sunglasses.

For more information please see the SunSmart hub at www.hse.ie/SunSmart which includes a video for outdoor workers and check out #SunSmart on social media.

Last updated on: 28 / 04 / 2022