SNP MEP Condemns Euro Tan Ban

27 September 2005
SNP MEP Alyn Smith has spoken out against the "tan ban".

Euro-MPs have been debating controversial new proposals for EU rules to protect workers from the risks of so-called 'optical radiation'. Now there are concerns that what started out as a straightforward piece of health and safety regulation may have grown beyond the scope of what was intended.

At issue is whether to include exposure to sunlight within the scope of the new directive. The SNP is concerned that this could adversely affect sectors of Scottish industry where workers have to spend a lot of time outdoors, including fishing, construction and farming.

Warning of over regulation Mr Smith questioned whether EU law was the appropriate vehicle for such issues to be dealt with.

Mr Smith commented:

"Nobody would deny skin cancer to be a serious issue. In seeking to protect Europe's workers from skin cancer this legislation has become a bit of a monster. It does contain the odd good idea but it will not achieve what it says on the tin.

If better protections against sunlight is needed then let's have that debate at a Scottish level by all means, but I'm not convinced that bringing natural light into a directive about artificial radiation is sensible.

The sad part is that much of what's put forward could make a real difference, it's just a shame that overzealousness seems once again to have taken hold in Brussels.

It is the job of MEPs to ensure that legislation is realistic and the SNP will be fighting for just that. I find it strange that Scots MEPs who have been vocal at home on the issue, failed to show up for the debate.

In particular, the proposal that employers should be forced to warn workers about the dangers of sunlight really is going too far. It's an insult to the intelligence of workers and employers alike.

Ultimately, it is the responsibility of the individual to know about health risks from the sun. If there is a case for an EU wide information campaign on that, I'd be all for it. But for us to be asked to add to the burdens of small businesses, farmers, fishermen and builders is an ask too far."



MEPs debate the EU Optical Radiation Directive today (Tuesday) with the vote taking place tomorrow (Wednesday). At issue is the inclusion or not of a requirement that would oblige employers in affected sectors to warn workers of the dangers of exposure to sunlight and to undertake risk assessments of any dangers to health and safety so that appropriate measures could be taken.