Men who work outdoors urged to be sun aware

A new public health campaign to encourage men who work outdoors to protect themselves from the sun and skin cancer has been launched in Liverpool.

Skin Cancer is the one of the most common forms of cancer in Liverpool, and the number of new cases diagnosed each year have more than doubled over the last decade.

Studies show that people who work outdoors are twice as likely as those with an indoor job to be diagnosed with skin cancer.

In response, Public Health Liverpool have worked in partnership with the NHS and local employers, with supporting information provided by Cancer Research UK and a foreword written by Health and Safety Executive (HSE), to develop a toolkit for employers to raise awareness of the issue.

The pack includes posters to be placed in workplaces and a symptoms card for employees encouraging them to get any moles or patches of skin they are concerned about checked by their GP.

The advice includes covering up and using sun cream between May and September when the rays from the sun are strongest, paying particular attention to ears, necks and lips.

Employers are being encouraged to raise awareness of sun protection and to provide protective clothing and sunscreen, as well as raising awareness of the symptoms of skin cancer and the importance of early diagnosis.

Assistant Cabinet member for adult health and the Council’s cancer champion, Councillor Roy Gladden, said: “We’re all well aware of the importance of putting on sun cream when we go on holiday or to the beach, but studies show that people don’t protect themselves when they are working outside.

“We want people to get the message that sun cream is no different to putting on a hard hat and gloves or any other form of protective clothing. It is there to protect you from the risks associated with doing your job.”

Dr. Sandra Davies, Interim Director of Public Health for Liverpool, said: “Tackling skin cancer is one of our priorities and we know that people who work outdoors often don’t realise the risk they are exposing themselves to.

“If you work outdoors you can spend literally hours in the sun every day so it is really important to make sure you are protected. Even if it is cloudy, you are still at risk of the damage the sun can do.”

“Contrary to popular belief, there is no such thing as a healthy tan and you are not protected if you already have a tan. If your skin goes red it is a sign the cells have been damaged by too much UV radiation.”

Companies who are working with the city council on the campaign include Glendale (a leading provider of green services to the public and private sector).

Liverpool based independent charity Health@Work – which works with organisations of all sizes to help create healthier and ultimately happier workforces – is supporting and promoting the campaign as part of the Workplace Wellbeing Charter. More information is available at http://www.healthatworkcentre.org.uk/.

Employers can download the toolkit at http://www.healthatworkcentre.org.uk/Protecting-Outdoor-Workers-from-the-Sun-and-Skin-Cancer-n72.html

Employees can visit www.sunsmart.org.uk for skin cancer information and sun protection advice.

Public Health Liverpool has a limited number of hardcopies of the Employers toolkit, symptoms cards and posters available for companies based in Liverpool. Please visit http://www.liverpoolhps.nhs.uk/ to order.

SKIN CANCER FACTS

• It is the most common form of cancer in the UK
• Survival rates for women are better than for men as they check themselves more frequently
• It can take 10-30 years for any symptoms to appear
• People with fair skin, moles or freckles, red or fair hair and light eyes are more at risk
• Sunscreens with an SPF of at least 15 should be used
• Symptoms include a spot, mole or sore that itches, hurts, crusts, scabs or bleeds or a mole that changes size, shape or colour