Danger in the sun

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Research by University of Manchester has prompted medical experts to urge builders to cover up while working in the sun, to reduce the risk of getting cancer.

Instances of cancer amongst Britain's 2.4 million construction workers is now as common as that of asbestos related illnesses.

Topless builders is no rare sight but this tendency means that they are up to nine times more likely to suffer skin cancer, with 1,000 new tumours diagnosed each year.

"Frequent exposure to direct sunlight has long been associated with increased risk of cancer," says Emma Costin who is head of Industrial Disease at law firm Simpson Millar LLP. "The risks faced by those who work long hours out of doors are of real statistical significance, and arguably we have reached the stage where it can be said that employers have a duty to educate outdoors workers of the risks they run and even provide sun cream and regular medical screening."

Although perhaps not appealing on a hot summer day, builders who work outside in the sun are advised to wear long-sleeved shirts and to use plenty of sun block.

The president of the Society of Occupational Medicine, Dr Henry Goodall says that a failure to wear sun block is as dangerous as forgetting to wear a hard hat. "We need to send a clear message that the days of the topless builder are over," he said.


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