Farmers risk of skin cancer highlighted in Farm Safety Week

27 July 2017

During Farm Safety Week this week (24-28 July), farmers in the South of England are being encouraged to do more to lessen their risk of skin cancer.

NHS England’s Cover Up, Mate campaign, supported by IOSH and its No Time to Lose campaign, has been exhibited at The New Forest and Hampshire County Show this week.

Cover Up, Mate urges men who spend long periods of time outdoors to protect themselves against the sun. Farmers are a key focus of the campaign because of their potential prolonged exposure to solar radiation.

Research commissioned by IOSH for No Time to Lose, found that malignant melanoma kills nearly 50 people each year in Britain because of exposure to solar radiation at work, with 240 new cases being registered. One of the key sectors at risk is agriculture.

No Time to Lose raises awareness of occupational cancer and helps businesses take action by providing free practical resources. Solar radiation is one of the work-related carcinogens the campaign is highlighting.

At the agricultural show free pocket cards were distributed to delegates, developed by IOSH in support of NHS England’s Cover Up, Mate campaign.

The card explains how to protect your skin from sun exposure when working outdoors. It advises workers to cover up with suitable clothing and sunglasses, use at least factor 15 sunscreen, and to check the skin for signs of skin cancer.

This year’s Cover Up, Mate campaign was launched on 19 June and has already been showcased at various farm shows across the South of England, and created huge amount of interest through the use of social media using the hashtag #CoverUpMate.

Pete Bramwell, Senior Communications Manager (South) at NHS England, said:

“Skin cancer is one of the most common forms of cancers, and you are at greater risk if you have fair skin, moles, freckles, and red or fair hair.

“The Cover Up, Mate campaign is designed to raise awareness of the risks of skin cancer and encourage men to take a safer approach when in the sun and help reduce the incidence of skin cancer.”

To support Cover Up, Mate, IOSH has been raising awareness of the campaign through its website, e-newsletter, news stories and social media channels which has already generated over 2,000 visits.

The campaign was also recently showcased at its No Time to Lose campaign event – NTTL 200 – organisations working together to beat occupational cancer – which brought together leading organisations who are supporting No Time to Lose that have committed to tackling occupational cancer.

Kate Field, Head of Information and Intelligence at IOSH, said:

“It’s great to see the good work done by like-minded organisations to raise awareness of skin cancer caused by solar radiation exposure at work.

“By working together we can reach a wider audience to help beat occupational cancer caused by sun exposure.

“Farmers and other outdoor workers can access lots of free materials to raise awareness of solar radiation risks from the No Time to Lose website – we have posters, leaflets, tool box talks and more.

“We’re also encouraging businesses to sign up to our No Time to Lose campaign pledge to help tackle sun exposure at work by putting in place prevention strategies. A hundred businesses worldwide have now pledged to take action to prevent occupational cancer.

“We will continue to support Cover Up, Mate to our membership to help prevent skin cancer caused by solar radiation exposure.”

To find out more about how to protect yourself and your team please visit www.nhs.uk and follow @NHSEnglandSouth on Twitter.

To sign up to IOSH’s No Time to Lose campaign pledge and get free resources to help tackle sun exposure at work, go to www.notimetolose.org.uk. You can keep up to date with the latest campaign news by following @_NTTL on Twitter.