British people, generally, love to tan. The lack of regular sunshine in the UK guarantees millions jet off to sunny climes each year on holiday to ensure their dose of sunshine. For others, the choice to tan is satisfied by visits to a local facility offering a sunbed. This could be at a dedicated tanning salon, but also within a beauty salon, nail bar, hairdressers, gym, spa or health club. Tanning, including sunbed use, must be undertaken responsibly as a number of contra-indications exist.
Through its Code of Practice, The Sunbed Association (TSA) requires its operator members to ensure consumers are screened by a member of trained staff before being allowed use of a sunbed. There are also equipment regulations and age restriction legislation in place to help protect consumers when it comes to indoor tanning. However, within the UK, there is disparity in legislation between the home nations. For example, legislation in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland prohibits unsupervised commercial sunbed use – that is, unstaffed salons – but this law does not apply in England.
TSA is keen to see England brought into line with the rest of the UK on this matter and does not allow unstaffed salons or home hirers in membership. Alongside customer screening, all operators of UV tanning equipment have a duty to comply with legal requirements and a duty of care towards the public to ensure the equipment and service they supply and operate is safe and does not present any risk, or only the minimum risk, to consumers.
The safety framework that covers sunbed services in the UK includes The Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1994 (EESRs) – which implements the Low Voltage Directive – and The General Product Safety Regulations 2005 (GPSRs). The scope of the EESRs covers UV tanning equipment being traded new, second-hand or hired. In 2007, the EU published a Declaration that the maximum irradiance level for UV tanning equipment should be 0.3W/mÇ and that any UV tanning equipment exceeding this level would be deemed unsafe.
Both the EESRs and the GPSRs accept compliance with European Standards as a presumption of conformity with the Regulations and BS EN 60335-2-27 governs the manufacture of UV tanning equipment with regard to construction, electrical safety, mechanical strength, UV output and instructions for use. This Standard was revised as a result of the Declaration and the maximum irradiance level of 0.3W/mÇ came into force on 1 April 2009.
Since that time, a number of local authorities in the UK have undertaken compliance testing and enforcement of what is colloquially referred to as ‘0.3’. Where compliance has not been met, intervention has ranged from immediate shutdown of the failing sunbed(s) through to agreeing a scheduled plan of compliance. There are many examples around the UK where successful testing programmes have significant improvements, from as little as 20 per cent compliance before testing, to 100 per cent compliance post-testing. A sunbed with a compliant UV output significantly reduces the risk of burning – and it is over-exposure to UV light and burning, whether on a sunbed or in sunlight, that must be avoided to ensure any associated health risks are minimised.
Alongside consumer safety is the issue of trading on a level playing field. A compliant session can take up to twice as long as a non-compliant session to achieve the same UV dose. This immediately puts a compliant operator at a trading disadvantage, as the consumer will generally seek the ‘quickest’ and – as sessions are generally sold by the minute – cheaper route to achieving their tan. Similarly, there are concerns that unstaffed facilities find themselves at a trading advantage over staffed salons, not only because indoor tanning is an age restricted service.
The provision of a sunbed service to best practice requires staff to be present at all times to screen and advise customers appropriately, as well as the ability to deal immediately with any concerns or issues that may occur during a tanning session. Interestingly, one of the most common requests received at TSA from trading standards officers (TSOs) is for a list of sunbed lamps that are 0.3W/mÇ compliant. There is no such thing as a 0.3 compliant lamp. It is a combination of the sunbed – including ballasts, embedded software, number and configuration of lamps, together with a particular lamp – that will deliver a compliant session.
That same lamp in a different sunbed may not deliver a compliant session. The lamps may have a 0.3 etching on them, but this is a marketing initiative and not a guarantee that the output with that particular sunbed will be compliant. As such, it is our advice to members that they secure written confirmation from their lamp supplier that a compliant session will be delivered when used in the sunbeds in their facility.
Over the past few years, 0.3 compliance testing initiatives appear to have slowed down considerably and there are many authorities where there does not appear to be any records of 0.3 compliance testing ever having taken place. With a lack of any national guidance on compliance testing for 0.3, together with recognised fiscal and human resource pressures on TSOs, TSA has put together a support programme accessible for TSOs and environmental health officers (EHOs), who may also be undertaking ageverification test purchases for sunbed use.
Training workshops To date, training workshops have been presented by specialist trading standards officer Richard Knight, from Essex County Council, together with Marijn Colijn, the project leader of the former EU Prosafe/Joint Action for Sunbeds (JAS) programme. The content covers the following areas:
- Legislative basis
- Harmonised standard
- Health and safety considerations
- Personal protective equipment
- Measuring equipment
- Approach to inspections
- Testing guidelines/checklist
- Gaining compliance
- The public health agenda
- Useful references
Access to a local TSA-member salon can be organised for onsite officer training before inspection visits, and a free loan of a handheld Solarmeter is available to take the UV emission readings. There are also leaflets available about 0.3 tanning for operators and consumers, and information, advice and support from the TSA team.
Top tips for gaining 0.3 compliance
by richard knight, specialist trading standards officer at essex County Council.
- Protect yourself: ensure you have the right personal protective equipment for measurement inspections, and document your own health and safety risk assessment
- Set modest visit targets at the outset of your campaign until you are familiar with testing protocols and are accustomed to the heat and confined working conditions
- Link up with environmental health officer colleagues to gain intel on local salons and consider possible joint visits
- Enlist the support (and funding) of local public health colleagues
- Incorporate cosmetic product checks – for example, tanning accelerants/moisturisers – being carried out in salons
- If you haven’t tackled this work before, send out pre-visit information to salons reminding business operators of the law and their obligations, and making it clear what they can expect from you
- Adopt the Product Safety Forum of Europe (Prosafe) approach to gaining compliance: Inform – Convince – Enforce
- Search on the Knowledge Hub for Checklist – Practical Sunbed Inspections for detailed guidance on test protocols for EN 60335-2-27: 2013 9.
- Continued non-compliance after initial advice is best dealt with by using safety notices. For example, a Suspension Notice issued under regulation 11 of General Product Safety Regulations 2005, breach of which constitutes a criminal offence
To use Essex County Council’s sunbed animation, search for ‘Trading standards sunbed warning video’ on YouTube. To rebrand the video with your authority’s logo, email email@example.com. uk A modest fee will be payable to the production company.
The Sunbed association is a not-for-profit membership organisation set up in 1995 to promote self-regulation and best practice in the business of indoor tanning equipment. Members represent operators, manufacturers, suppliers and distributors in the uk and ireland’s indoor tanning industry Members are required to comply with its Code of Practice. this requires staff to: be trained and on site during all open hours; screen all customers and refuse use to anyone with particular medical conditions; and be compliant with all applicable regulations and laws. inside, the salon should be clean; equipment should be properly maintained; appropriate information for customers should be properly maintained; protective eyewear should be available; and customer records maintained.
Test your knowledge of sunbed compliance by completing this short questionnaire – scroll down to see the answers.
1. What is the British Standard that governs the UV output of a sunbed?
2. When did this Standard come into force?
3. What is the maximum UV output level of a compliant sunbed session?
4. Can a sunbed lamp/tube on its own deliver a compliant session?
5. What factors will determine the compliant output of a sunbed?
6. What is the primary aim of a compliant sunbed session?
7. Does the Standard apply to just new sunbeds in service?
8. What is the Prosafe approach to gaining compliance?
The online CPPD test for this module is now closed.
1. BS EN 60335-2-27: 2013; 2. 1 April 2009; 3. 0.3W/mÇ 4. No, there is no such thing as a compliant lamp/tube; 5. A combination of the sunbed and lamps. Adjustments may also be required to facial tanners, ballasts and some of the embedded software in the sunbed; 6. To reduce significantly the risk of burning; 7. No, it applies to all sunbeds traded new, secondhand or reconditioned since 1 April 2009; 8. Inform, convince, enforce.