Health risks of using sunbeds
Using a sunbed can increase the risk of getting skin cancer. If you’re a sunbed operator in Northern Ireland, you must not allow young people under 18 to use, hire or buy a sunbed. In your shop or premises, you must display information about the health risks of using a sunbed.
Selling sunbed sessions or sunbeds
If you have a sunbed business, you must not:
- sell a sunbed session to anyone under 18
- sell or hire a sunbed to anyone under 18
- allow anyone under 18 into the restricted zone where there are sunbeds
- display information saying using a sunbed has health benefits
- ensure the business is supervised at all times by an adult
- give every customer the yellow leaflet on the health risks of sunbeds and make sure they read this
- display prominently the yellow A3 public information notice on the health risks of sunbeds
- give sunglasses, goggles or other eye protection to every customer
You must do a risk assessment of your premises and the sunbed business activities.
Checking sunbed businesses follow the law on sunbeds
We are responsible for checking that sunbed operators in Belfast follow the law. We do this by test-buying in sunbed businesses in Belfast.
For example, we can send a young person under 18 years old to try to buy a sunbed session.
We can also send someone over 18 years old to check a sunbed business:
- gives customers the yellow information leaflet on the health risks of sunbeds
- displays prominently the yellow poster on the health risks of sunbeds
- does not display information saying using a sunbed has health benefits
- gives customers protective eyewear
Fines and convictions for breaking the law on sunbeds
If you don’t follow the law on sunbeds, we can give you a fixed penalty notice. This is a fine. The fine is £250 for each offence. The fine is £50 for displaying information saying there are health benefits to using a sunbed.
If you don’t pay the fixed penalty, we can take you to court. If you’re convicted in court, you could be fined up to £5,000.
Keeping records for sunbed sessions
When you sell sunbed sessions, you should keep written records for every person who uses a sunbed. Before you allow a customer to buy a sunbed session, you should:
- make sure they’re aged over 18 by checking their passport or driving licence
- write down that you’ve checked their ID
- give them the yellow information leaflet
- ask them to fill in a health questionnaire
- ask them to sign their health record and confirm also they’ll wear the protective eyewear you’ve provided
- write down their name, address, telephone, date of birth and date of their sunbed session
- assess their skin type and confirm the recommended length of time for their sunbed session
Every time anyone has a sunbed session, you should write down:
- date of their session
- how long their sunbed session lasted
You should also keep records if you refuse to sell someone a sunbed session.
If you or your staff refuse to sell someone a sunbed session, you should write down:
- the date and time
- the reason for refusing to sell
To assess skin types of people wanting to buy sunbed sessions, you and your staff should use the Fitzpatrick Scale. You’ll need training to use this method.
To understand the law and a sunbed operator’s responsibilities, you and your staff should complete regular training. You should keep a written record of training completed and what was covered. It’s important that staff confirms in writing each time they’ve completed training.
Health and safety in a sunbed business
If you have a sunbed business, you are responsible for regularly maintaining the sunbeds and electrical systems.
After every customer’s use, you must clean and sanitise goggles or other protective eyewear. You should also clean sunbed equipment and surfaces immediately after a customer’s session finishes. Every sunbed should have an accessible emergency stop button. You should check regularly that the buttons are working. To allow emergency exit, sunbed rooms should be accessible from outside.
Risk assessment in a sunbed business
When doing the risk assessment of your premises and sunbed activities, you must identify:
- health and safety risks to your staff and customers
- what you’ve done to reduce the risks as far as is reasonably practical
You must record in writing the main findings of the risk assessment if you employ five or more people. But it’s also good practice to keep a written record of the risk assessment if you employ less than five people.
To read a sample risk assessment for a sunbed business, contact our Health and Safety department:
You can also download the Health and Safety Executive’s risk assessment template (link opens in new window)
More information on sunbeds
To read more information on sunbeds, go to:
This information is published in English and Polish.