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First Mid Ulster Business Owner fined under Sunbeds Law

The owner of a premises offering sunbed sessions to the public has become the first person in the Mid Ulster District Council area to be issued with a fixed penalty notice under the Sunbeds Act (NI) 2011.

A person under the age of 18 was sold a sunbed session on 9th March 2019 during a targeted test purchase exercise conducted by the Council’s Environmental Health service.  The owner was issued with a fixed penalty notice which incurred a fine of £250. Nine other sunbed premises refused the sale to the 15 year old volunteer. 

The Sunbeds Act (NI) 2011 was introduced because there is growing evidence of health risks associated with sunbed use. Sunbeds are commonly used here and have become increasingly popular since the 1990s. Modern sunbeds work by exposing the user to ultraviolet (UV) radiation which can be the equivalent of Mediterranean sunlight at midday in August.
The dangers associated with sunbeds include an increased risk of skin cancer and young people in particular are at risk as their skin is more vulnerable to UV radiation.
Chair of Mid Ulster District Council, Councillor Martin Kearney, in welcoming the enforcement action stated, “In recent years, the accessibility of sunbed shops has increased, as has the number of people diagnosed with skin cancer. Research carried out by The World Health Organisation has shown that melanoma risk increases with younger age of first sunbed use and with greater lifetime use of sunbeds.
“We welcome this course of enforcement action which illustrates the Council’s commitment to protect public health when operators are not complying with the relevant legislation on underage use of sunbeds. This should serve as a reminder to other sunbed operators that enforcement action will be taken when breaches are committed. Individuals and businesses who wish to offer sunbeds to the public should contact the Council’s Environmental Health service for advice.”
The law means that it is illegal for a sunbed business to:
• allow anyone under 18 to use a sunbed;
• sell or hire a sunbed to anyone under 18; and
• have an unmanned sunbed premises.
The business must also:
• inform customers on the risks associated with sunbeds;
• display a public information notice on the risks associated with sunbed use;
• ensure that information making health claims of sunbed use is not displayed; and
• make sure that they provide customers with eye protection.
Environmental Health Officers in Mid Ulster District Council enforce this particular piece of legislation and members of the public should contact their local council with any complaints or queries.  All sunbed operators MUST ask young people to show a drivers licence or passport as proof of age and provide them with a leaflet highlighting the health risks of sunbeds.  They should advise the customer on their skin type and allocate the time permitted on the sunbed.  Protective goggles MUST be provided to each customer and these should be worn as serious damage to eyes can result from the UV radiation.

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