The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) is urging farmers across the country to take proactive measures to protect themselves from the harmful effects of ultraviolet (UV) radiation.

Farmers are at an increased risk of exposure to harmful UV rays, even on cloudy days, which can lead to serious health issues, including skin cancer, cataracts and heat-related illnesses, the HSA has said.

Recent studies have highlighted a troubling rise in skin cancer cases among outdoor workers, which, according to the HSA, emphasises the need for enhanced protective measures.

Mitigating the risks associated with UV exposure:

  • Risk assessment: conduct thorough risk assessments to identify potential UV hazards and implement appropriate control measures.
  • Education and training: provide training programmes to educate workers about the dangers of UV radiation and the importance of sun protection.
  • Protective clothing: ensure that workers wear appropriate clothing, including wide-brimmed hats, long-sleeved shirts and sunglasses that offer UV protection.
  • Sunscreen provision: supply broad-spectrum sunscreen with a high SPF and encourage regular application.
  • Scheduling adjustments: whenever possible, schedule outdoor work to avoid peak UV radiation times, typically between 11am and 3pm.
  • Shade and breaks: provide shaded areas and encourage regular breaks to reduce prolonged sun exposure.
  • Employees are encouraged to take personal responsibility for their sun safety by:

  • Wearing sun-protective clothing, hats and sunglasses.
  • Applying a generous amount of broad-spectrum sunscreen 20 minutes before going outside and reapplying every two hours or more frequently if sweating.
  • Taking advantage of shaded areas during breaks and lunchtime.
  • Staying hydrated to help the body cope with heat and sun exposure.
  • HSE senior inspector Tim Dowling said that protecting outdoor workers from the harmful effects of UV radiation is crucial.

    "Even on cloudy days in summer the UV index can be high. With proper education and preventive measures, we can significantly reduce the risk of skin cancer and other sun-related health issues for outdoor workers," he said.