BACKGROUND Although UV exposure is the most important risk factor for cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) and basal cell carcinoma (BCC), a systematic review analyzing the risk of occupational UV exposure is missing. METHODS Based on a systematic literature search in PubMed (until 05/2009) supplemented by hand search, the association between occupational UV exposure and SCC and BCC was analyzed. Literature search and data abstraction was done independently by 2 reviewers. The association between occupational UV exposure and cancer risk is presented as odds ratios (OR). RESULTS We identified 25 relevant epidemiologic studies (5 cohort studies, 17 case-control studies, 3 cross-sectional studies). 12 studies described a positive association between occupational UV exposure and risk of SCC with OR > 3 in 6 studies and OR 1.5-2.0 in another 6 studies. 3 studies did not find a relevant association (OR: 1.0-1.4). A significant positive association between occupational UV exposure and BCC was reported in 5 studies; 11 studies did not find a significant association. CONCLUSIONS The association between occupational UV exposure and SCC is well and consistently documented epidemiologically (approximately 2-fold increased risk), so that the criteria for a new occupational disease are fulfilled. The association with BCC is unclear due to significant methodological limitations in the published studies.