Everyone was smiling recently at a discussion meeting hosted by Okaihau, Northland dairy farmer Roger Hutchings on his farm.
People who work outside receive up to 10 times more UV radiation exposure than indoor workers, putting them at higher risk of developing skin cancer, according to the Cancer Society.
It says not everyone realises the hidden hazard of over-exposure to ultra-violet (UV) radiation.
Additionally, items that can protect you from UV radiation, like sun protective clothing, sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses are tax deductable for farmers who are self employed.
Cancer Society medical director Dr Kate Gregory says skin cancer is the most common cancer in Aotearoa New Zealand.
"Fortunately, we now know that there are things we can do to lower our risk. It is important that we embed SunSmart practices in our lives from a very young age as UV damage accumulates over time.
"Also, if you are working outside, it is essential that you take steps to protect yourself from UV radiation. It i never too late to start.
"These actions can make a real difference in reducing the risk of skin cancers."
Otago Farmer Jeremy Wales, from Baldwin Farm, in the Knobbie Range has been farming for 24 years. Generally a man of few words he still wants to spread the message of taking care while working outdoors. "The sun is hard and hot in Central, and you don't want to get done over by skin cancer! Cover up, wear a hat, and put your sunnies on."
Gregory notes that most skin cancers can be treated successfully if caught early.
"It is so important for everyone, particularly those spending large amounts of time outdoors, to regularly check their skin.
"And remember that you cannot see or feel UV radiation - it can be harmful even on a cool or cloudy day. Because UV damage accumulates over time, we recommend that farmers use sun protection all day.
"Be particularly careful from the beginning of September to April between the hours of 10am-4pm when UV levels are highest."
All farmers have to be careful in the sun but farmers in more northern parts of the country experience higher UV radiation for longer.
Tips When Out on the Farm
Wear items that can protect you while outdoors. Depending on the requirements, this could include:
- A wide-brimmed hat or helmet with a peak and neck guard (legionnaire's flap)
- A long-sleeved, collared shirt (wear the collar upturned to protect your neck, a common place for skin cancers), ideally in a tight-weaved, dark fabric
- Close-fitting, wrap-around sunglasses that meet safety and sun protection standards (check the label).
- Slip into shade if possible, if not, try to schedule outside tasks when UV radiation levels are lower, such as early morning or late afternoon.