Irish Cancer Society Calls On Outdoor Workers In Tipperary To Be SunSmart This Summer

The Irish Cancer Society has said that almost one in four (23%) of skin cancer deaths in Ireland are from the construction, outdoor and farming industry. As it launches its annual SunSmart campaign, the Society said that farmers and construction workers in the Tipperary area need to be extra vigilant during the summer months.


It also pointed to UK research which emerged recently showing 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 (4 in 10), followed by agriculture workers (over 2 in 10).


The Society has teamed up with the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) and the Construction Industry Federation (CIF) to urge all outdoor workers to protect their skin and reduce their risk of skin cancer.


Launching the campaign, Kevin O’Hagan, Cancer Prevention Manager with the Irish Cancer Society said, “These 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 Tipperary 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, and figures show that 377 people were diagnosed in Tipperary. More men than women were diagnosed with 205 men getting skin cancer compared to 172 women. Whether it’s sunny or cloudy, everyone should protect their skin and this summer, we can asking people to follow our SunSmart Code for best protection.”


IFA President Joe Healy said, “We are delighted to support this campaign once again this year as we see the importance of this advice for our members. 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 check their skin regularly for changes.”


Tom Parlon, Director General of the CIF said, “The research from the UK is a very clear indication that we need to take skin protection on building sites very seriously. 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 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.


For more information on skin cancer or how to be SunSmart, visit


To speak to a cancer nurse on any aspect of cancer contact the Cancer Nurseline on Freephone 1800 200 700, email or drop into one of 13 Daffodil Centres in hospitals nationwide. For information on Daffodil Centre locations and opening times email

Follow the Irish Cancer Society’s SunSmart Code to stay safe in the sun and reduce their risk of developing skin cancer.


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 SPF 15 (SPF30 for children) 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 –
  • Keep babies under six months out of the sun.


Employer Protection Measures

The Health and Safety Authority produce a short guide for employers of outdoor workers and the employees themselves on sun protection.


There are a range of protective measures as follows:


  • If possible, plan outdoor work in sunny weather to limit duration and intensity of employee exposure to direct sunlight (1100 to 1500 sun rays are most intense)
  • Limit duration of exposure if possible when UV index is high (3 or above)
  • Give information to employees about dangers of sun exposure
  • Inform employees about the Sun Smart code
  • Educate and encourage employees to self-check skin for signs of skin cancer
  • Check UV index, if 3 or above greater risk
  • Ensure breaks are taken out of direct sunlight
  • Encourage employees to cover up, keep clothing on with sleeves down and collars up, wear clothing with high ultraviolet protection factor (UPF), 15 or more, wear hat
  • Ensure employees do not strip off clothing when it is sunny
  • Provide sun screen, SPF of at least 30 and UVA label on bottle
  • Provide sun glasses

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