The Irish Cancer Society (ICS) has reported that almost one in four people who have died from skin cancer in Ireland worked in 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, published in the British Journal of Cancer, which found 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. 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.