People working outdoors have to be aware of using sun protection regularly. Photo: Callum Hill

35% of tradespeople don’t wear sunscreen

With high temperatures returning this week, surprising new research has revealed that over a third (35 per cent) of tradespeople don’t apply sunscreen when working outdoors.

The research featured almost 700 tradespeople and asked them about their sun protections habits. It revealed that despite 54 per cent spending up to four hours working outside each day, a quarter believe they don’t need to wear sunscreen.

Almost half (41 per cent) claim they shun the factor 50 because they don’t burn easily while a further 14 per cent say they sweat a lot while working so don’t see the point in applying it!

The research from Chadwicks Group, Ireland’s leading builders’ merchants, shows how at risk some tradespeople are. It seems that even those who are applying sunscreen are not applying it often enough. A third only apply sunscreen once a day while 27 per cent say they try and put on SPF twice a day. In general, it is advised to apply sunscreen every two hours.

According to the recent CSO figures from 2018, up to a quarter of skin cancer deaths in Ireland are among workers in the construction, outdoor and farming sectors.

Dr Clodagh O’Shea from Beacon Face & Dermatology has some top tips on how to stay safe in the sun:

Check the rating: When choosing a sunscreen, ensure it is at least SPF 30 and has a star rating of at least 4. It is important your sunscreen offers ‘broad spectrum’ protection also.

Apply generously: Most people probably achieve a mean sun protection factor (SPF) of between 20 per cent and 50 per cent of that expected from the product label because they do not apply enough product. Remember, 30ml (a shot glass) of sunscreen is required for the whole body. If applying only face and neck, two finger lengths of sunscreen is required.

Look for key ingredients: If you are working outside for long periods of time in wet or windy weather conditions, it is best to choose a ‘physical sunscreen’. This type of sunscreen works by sitting on top of the skin to deflect damaging UV rays away from the skin. Look for ingredients such as titanium oxide or zinc oxide in the list of ingredients to determine if the sunscreen is physical. Physical sunscreens offer protection from both UVA and UVB rays and offer protection as soon as it’s applied so there’s no need to wait before heading outdoors.

Waterproof vs water resistant: There is no such thing as ‘waterproof sunscreen’. However, if a sunscreen is described as ‘water-resistant’, this means the SPF is still effective after 40 minutes of water immersion. Bear this in mind when working outside in the unpredictable Irish weather.

Make it part of your daily routine: Most importantly, sunscreen should be worn every single day of the year, no excuses!