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National concerns prompt Highland checks on UV tanning equipment in Highland

10th July 2017

The Highland Council, one of several local authorities in Scotland which license UV tanning salons, will be conducting an audit on all licensed premises in Highland to verify compliance with EU safety standards regarding the output of ultra violet (UV) radiation.

Environmental Health Officers have become increasingly aware of concerns nationally whereby the UV bulb strength in many cases have been found to exceed the standard for such equipment.

The use of any UV tanning equipment may expose both staff and customers to UV radiation. UV radiation can cause injuries in the short term (e.g. sunburnt skin or conjunctivitis) and ill health in the long term (e.g. premature skin ageing, skin cancer and cataracts). Frequent exposure to UV rays before the age of 35 years significantly increases the risk of several types of skin cancer.

In response to these concerns and to provide public confidence, Highland Council Environmental Health Officers will be carrying out a detailed review of all currently licensed sunbed operators to ensure their equipment and operating procedures remain fully compliant. This will involve a comprehensive audit of all the operating arrangements for the UV tanning equipment in these premises, and the use of a specialist broadband lightmeter to verify that the UV bulb strength does not exceed the relevant standards.

Gregor MacCormick, Senior Environmental Health Officer, said: "Due to the known risks from the use of UV tanning equipment it is important that members of the public can have confidence in the licensing regime and be reassured that all our licensed operators within the Highland Council area are fully compliant with the current safety guidelines. It is equally important that we raise the public's awareness of such risks in order to ensure they check that any operators have a valid licence. Where we do become aware of any unlicensed activity then our Service will not hesitate to take immediate enforcement action to protect public health."

Dr Ken Oates, Consultant in Public Health added his support to the project, he said: "I welcome this initiative by Highland Council Environmental Health colleagues and support their efforts to improve the safety of UV tanning equipment."

Environmental Health Officers hope to complete the project by the end of August 2017.

Anyone requiring further information or who wishes to report any potential unlicensed operator of UV tanning equipment within the Highland Council area, please email:

Under current legislation, sunbeds may be licensed by local authorities in Scotland, although this is not mandatory. Highland Council requires operators of UV tanning equipment to be licensed in terms of the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982. The following link is to relevant licensing conditions for Highland Council:

In 2006 the European Union (EU) Scientific Committee on Consumer Products published an opinion stating that UV tanning equipment should not exceed an erythema-weighted irradiance level of 0·3 W m−2, and that equipment above this level would be considered unsafe for tanning devices used for cosmetic purposes. This is roughly equivalent to Mediterranean sun at midday during the summer. All EU member states, including the U.K., agreed to introduce this level from 1 April 2009 for all new and traded tanning devices. This standard has been incorporated into standard conditions to be met by licence holders within the Highland Council region (see condition number 12 of the above link).

HSE guidance leaflet on sunbeds


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