Skin cancer survivor urges builders, farmers and gardeners to cover up mate!

Date: 19 Jun 2017

Category: Campaigns


A skin cancer survivor, along with health experts from Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Groups, is urging men who work outside to slap on the suncream this summer during the national ‘cover up mate’ campaign.

With summer getting in to full swing you might be forgiven for feeling a touch of jealousy towards those who work outside in the sunshine. However, spending long periods of time outside in hot weather can cause unseen damage to your skin, which can lead to the development of skin cancer.

This became clear to retired builder Michael Mansfield from Bishopsworth, who was diagnosed with skin cancer after a building career where he often spent long periods outside.

Michael said:

"There wasn’t any awareness of the dangers of being out in the sun when I started in the building trade. It was sun’s out, shirts off, and that’s what everybody did. We didn’t realise the harm we were doing. My wife and daughter told me to see the doctor after noticing that a mole on my back had changed shape during a holiday in Ibiza. I was shocked when I got a diagnosis of malignant melanoma. The cancer was very deep in the tissue and it was very lucky that we caught it when we did. I still have a 12 inch scar on my back from the operation to remove it. "
"Fortunately nowadays many larger firms make sure staff are properly dressed and protected for hot weather but some still ignore the health and safety warnings. I would urge anyone who works outside to cover up when going outside and make sure you wear suncream. If you value your own life and the life of your family, this is something you should do. No one is immune to this. It can be fatal, and it nearly was for me."

Skin cancer rates are higher than average in the south west and figures released by Public Health England show that between 2005 and 2014, deaths related to skin cancer increased by 22% in men in the south west, but there was no increase in deaths among women.

"Burning just once every two years can triple your risk of skin cancer. So it’s vitally important that you protect yourself from the sun between April and October when levels of ultraviolet (UV) radiation, which can cause skin cancer, are at their highest. You can’t feel UV rays, so people are often unaware that they are being burnt by the sun and by then it’s too late. Avoiding exposure to the sun in the middle of the day and generously applying sun cream of at least factor 15 is the best way to do this. This is a particularly important message for men who work outside, who often spend long periods of the day unprotected from the sun."

- Dr Jonathan Hayes, Clinical Chair for South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group

Local businesses can make a pledge to encourage their employees to protect themselves against the sun and find free resources such as information packs and posters on the No Time To Lose website.

Read more advice for adults and children on sunscream and sun safety in the UK and abroad