IOSH backs NHS England campaign to tackle skin cancer in the South of England

Today, NHS England launched a new initiative, ‘Cover Up, Mate’, to combat skin cancer caused by sun exposure among men who work outdoors. IOSH, through its own No Time to Lose campaign, is a core partner in the Cover Up, Mate campaign.

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

NHS England has launched the campaign in the South of England, as skin cancer rates are higher in this region.

Besides IOSH, core partners in the Cover Up, Mate campaign include the Met Office, the National Farmers Union, Mole Valley Farmers (farming supply retailer), Deb (suncream manufacturer) and Jewson (building supplies retailer). All of the campaign core partners are committed to raising awareness of skin cancer caused by sun exposure at work.

IOSH has developed a co-branded pocket card with NHS England and the core partners, which will be distributed at farm shows and regional events.

The card includes official NHS advice on staying safe in the sun: spend time in the shade, if possible; avoid sunburn; cover up with suitable clothing and sunglasses; and use sunscreen. It also advises that the earlier skin cancer is caught, the easier it is to treat, and encourages people to visit a GP as soon as possible if any moles or freckles change size or shape.

In turn, NHS England is supporting IOSH’s No Time to Lose campaign, which aims to raise awareness of occupational cancer and help businesses take action by providing free practical resources.

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

“We know outdoor workers are at higher risk of skin cancer due to prolonged exposure to the sun, but there are simple steps people can take to protect themselves.

“IOSH’s No Time to Lose campaign, which supports employers, absolutely goes hand in hand with our Cover Up, Mate campaign, targeting workers directly.

“We’re encouraging construction, agricultural and horticultural businesses to sign up to IOSH’s No Time to Lose campaign pledge to protect their employees from sun exposure, and to use the free resources it has developed to help raise awareness of the risks.”

In 2015, as part the No Time to Lose campaign, IOSH commissioned Imperial College London to carry out research into solar radiation exposure at work in Britain.

The research found that malignant melanoma – the most serious form of skin cancer – kills nearly 50 people each year.

The research also found that 42 per cent of malignant melanoma cancer cases involve construction workers. Other sectors where melanoma cancer cases are prevalent include agriculture, public administration and defence, and land transport. The findings from IOSH’s research are highlighted in the Cover Up, Mate campaign.

Kate Field, IOSH’s Head of Information and Intelligence, said:

“By working in collaboration with our campaign supporter, NHS England, we can raise awareness more widely.

“Skin cancer caused by solar radiation exposure is preventable. Businesses around the world have signed up to our No Time to Lose campaign pledge to help tackle sun exposure at work by putting in place prevention strategies.

“Our campaign website has free resources that companies can download to find out how to protect workers from the sun. They’ll find everything from factsheets, posters and pocket cards to films, toolbox talks and case studies, to help engage the workforce.

“By working together with like-minded organisations, we can beat occupational cancer caused by sun exposure.”

To find out more about NHS England’s Cover Up, Mate campaign, visit the website 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 the website. You can keep up to date with the latest campaign news by following @_NTTL on Twitter.