Advice To Help You Comply With Legislation

Guidance For Businesses Operating Sunbeds

The Sunbeds (Regulation) Act 2010 main aim, is to help protect the most vulnerable by stopping under 18s from accessing sunbeds. The legislation is an important step to help turn the tide of skin cancer in the UK.

Safety of Equipment

The General Product Safety Regulations 2005 require that products (which includes services) which are for use by consumers are safe and do not present any risk (or only the minimum risk given the product’s use).

Offering the use of a sunbed to consumers is deemed to be a supply of a product under these regulations, and as such the product should be safe. It is an offence to supply a product which is not safe.

Interpretation of what makes a sunbed a safe product is taken from the European Standard BS EN 60335-2-27 (Particular requirements for appliances for skin exposure to ultraviolet and infrared radiation). The Standard specifies that the irradiance level of a sunbed should not exceed 0.3 W/m2. Above this level a sunbed could be deemed a dangerous product under these regulations.  (Irradiance is a measure of the intensity of the sun.)

The 0.3 W/m2 maximum irradiance limit for UV tanning equipment represents the intensity of the midday sun in the summer in the Mediterranean. In other words this safe limit is intended to match the maximum that human Caucasians have biologically evolved to deal with.

Compliance with 0.3 W/m2 levels not only applies to new sunbeds but also to those currently is use.

There are various factors that can influence the levels of UV irradiation, including the lamps/tubes, filters, ballasts and the sun bed’s embedded software, or any combination of these.

In addition to possible breaches of the above regulations, businesses must also consider the civil liability that may apply around product liability/ personal injury/negligence if they knowingly operate sunbeds in excess of the safe limit of 0.3 W/m2. Consideration should also be given to whether their public liability insurance would be invalidated as a result of non compliance with the European Standard.

We would advise all businesses operating sunbeds to contact the suppliers of their sunbeds for expert technical advice on how these levels of UV irradiance can be brought down to those not exceeding the safe limit of 0.3 W/m2.

Instructions and warnings for customers

Any business that supplies a sunbed for hire to a consumer needs to ensure they supply adequate instructions on the safe use of such equipment. The instructions need to detail how to safely use the equipment, harm that can be caused from excessive use, that under 18’s should not use the equipment and also that the equipment needs to be appropriately marked with warnings.

Failure to supply such information and warnings could breach the General Product Safety Regulations 2005 and the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994; both of which are enforced by Trading Standards. Advice on the regulations can be found on the Trading Standards Business product safety page, alternatively you can contact the Devon Trading Standards business advice line on 01392 381381, or use the contact form.

The Health and Safety Executive have produced a leaflet and poster; with useful guidance for sunbed operators and clients .

Who is most at risk from use of sunbeds?

People with fair skin that tends to burn are at higher risk of problems from sunbed use than those with darker skin. Young people also have delicate skin and are more likely to damage it by using sunbeds.

You should NEVER use a sunbed if you:

  • are under 18
  • have fair or freckly skin
  • burn easily
  • have a lot of moles
  • have had skin cancer in the past
  • have a family history of skin cancer
  • are using medication that increases your sensitivity to UV.

Further Information

For more information on skin cancer prevention and early diagnosis, go to:
Cancer Research UK SunSmart campaign
South West Public Health Observatory Skin Cancer Hub

For industry information and guidance, please visit The Sunbed Association.

If you run a business and would like more advice on operating sunbeds, please contact your local Environmental Health Department. You can find your local office on the Food Standards Agency site.