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Hairdressing / Health and Safety

Salon Health and Safety

Health and Safety in the Hairdressing Salon

When we talk about health and safety in the hairdressing salon, we are talking about the safety and well being of clients as well as yourself and other work colleagues. It's about creating a healthy and safe working environment for all. The practice of Health and safety awareness should become naturally part of your everyday working life.

What hazards to look out for in a hairdressing Salon

Some hazards in the salon are less obvious than others.

For example:

  • Hair Waste: During and after a clients hair is cut, the area around the clients styling chair will be covered in small clumps of freshly cut wet hair. If it is not swept away immediately it poses a safety risk to other clients and staff who could easily slip on wet hair.
  • Chemical Spillage: All chemicals in a hairdressing salon should be treated as hazardous to health. A mixing bowl of pink looking hair tint left lying around may not seem like much of a health risk until a small child eats it thinking it's a tasty bowl of strawberry ice cream. Chemicals should never be left lying around and all spillages should be mopped up off the floor straight away in case somebody slips and hurts themselves.

Working as part of a team and salon Health and Safety

How does working as a team help with salon health and safety? In a salon there is not just one person responsible for health and safety. It is the responsibility of every hairdresser in a salon to look out for potential hazards and to conduct themselves in a safe way. However, you are not just looking out for yourself.

For example: If you aren't doing anything except waiting for your next client or taking a coffee break and you see another member of staff accidentally spill some hair tint on the floor, whilst in the middle of an application, you should clean it up yourself. The other member of staff can't stop to clear it up in the middle of an application. The same goes for hair or anything else lying around on the floor. If you see it, clear it. Even if it wasn't you who left it there.

Working as part of a team is the best way to achieve a healthy and safe working environment in the salon workplace.

Hair Infections

Colds and flu (spread by droplet infection), tinea capitis (a scalp condition) and Impetigo (caused by streptococci) are all fungal, viral or bacterial conditions that can be passed by direct contact or indirect contact from one individual to another, which can cause an infectious condition.

Any suspected hair infections should be reported to the salon owner immediately so that all the necessary precautions can be made to ensure that other clients and staff will not be at risk from the infection (i.e. sterilisation of tools and equipment). Any client suspected of having an infectious condition, like ringworm or head lice, should be tactfully referred to a doctor.

Hair infections can be spread from client to client or from client to hairdresser and in some cases from hairdresser to client. The client may have a very high standard of personal hygiene and pose no risk of infection to anyone, or on the other hand the client may pose the threat of infection. The clients health is very important so to maintain their health it is important not to pose the threat of hair infections to them in any way. Therefore it is important that the hairdresser controls the situation by being healthy and hygienic themselves. Legally the employee's are responsible for their own personal health and safety, and the health and safety of their clients.

See Recognising Infections and Pests and Diseases of the Hair and Scalp

Posture and deportment

Over a period of time poor posture and deportment can damage the hairdresser by causing back injuries, muscle spasms, aches and pains which in turn cause tiredness and irritability, and in turn this can cause the hairdresser to be less aware of the hazards that appear in the salon. Therefore, it is important to maintain good posture and deportment.

Back Problems

When performing a service for a client, from washing hair to cutting and colouring, you will be constantly stooping over your client. It may not seem relevant now but after a few months it can cause alot of stress and strain on your back. This is why you need to keep good posture and deportment. Try to keep your back straight at all times and bend at the knees rather than bending forward to cut hair at the nape area for example. Try to keep a good posture by keeping your shoulders back and never slouch when sitting. It will not only be good for your back but it also gives a good impression to clients when they see you.

Picking things up

When you need to pick up something off the floor, a box of salon stock for example, remember to bend your knees and keep your back straight. It can be extremely dangerous to just bend forward and lift a box from the floor without preparing for it first. You can pull muscles and ligaments from the full length of the body from the ankles all the way to the neck. It can be extremely painful and could stop you working for a couple of weeks.

Sensible Shoes

As a hairdresser you won't be surprised to know that you will be on your feet most of the day. It's a good idea to wear some comfortable shoes. It's tempting to go for a fashionable pair of high heel shoes or Cuban heels, but by the end of the day your feet won't thank you for it. Wear some sensible shoes and look after your feet. It will also help you keep good posture and deportment throughout the day.


[ Control of Substances Hazardous to Health ]

When preparing and carrying out procedures, involving chemicals, like perming and colouring using personal protective equipment, like gloves and an apron is very important because accidents do occur. You must prepare yourself for any possible hazard at all times. Information regarding protective equipment can be found in the COSHH regulations and on product labels.

Chemicals and Hairdressing

It may be hard to believe but hairdressing is the second highest risk occupation when it comes to hazardous chemical use. Contact dermatitis, for example, is the most reported skin condition. 80% of reports lead to the diagnosis of contact dermatitis.

The cause - frequent chemical handling and wet working.
It is estimated that 14 - 20% of hairdressing students drop out of training due to contact dermatitis.

Chemical substances can be hazardous by:

  • Inhalation
    Breathing in fumes from hazardous chemicals
  • Ingestion
    Swallowing chemicals or eating food that has been contaminated with chemicals.
  • Absorption
    Contact through the skin or eyes from contaminated surfaces or clothing.
  • Direct Contact
    Getting chemicals on the skin or eyes
  • Injection
    Getting chemicals into the body by high pressure equipment or contaminated sharp objects

Sensible precautions:

  • Use the recommended chemical concentration
  • Clear up spillages immediately
  • Reseal containers after use
  • Store chemicals in a safe place
  • Wear gloves during mixing and pouring
  • Clean and dry your hands as much as possible throughout the day
  • Wearing face shields or goggles will prevent splashes in the eyes

You have a responsibility under COSHH to store and use hazardous chemicals safely.

Salon Waste disposal

Be aware of potential hazards caused by the disposal or recycling of salon waste.

How to dispose of waste safely:

  • Aerosols
    Fully empty. Don't bend or pierce container. Place in bin that will not contain hot ashes.
    Highly flammable. Gasses may ignite.
  • Chemical waste
    Dilute with water. Wash down basin.
    Contact with chemicals can be harmful, but are less effective when diluted.
  • Sharps/Glass
    Wrap up any sharps in paper or tissue before disposal in cardbourd box.
    Sharps and glass can be dangerous if not securely contained.
  • Recyclable containers
    Fully clean and dry containers before clearly marking them.
  • Ash (ashtrays)
    Be shure that ash from ashtrays is fully extinguished and cool before disposal
    Could start fire.

Cross infections

When open cuts and abrasions come into contact with pathogenic micro-organisms an infection will occur. Cross infections are when these are passed from person to person. To stop cross infections from client to client it is important to check the client for any contra-indications like cuts and abrasions on the scalp and sterilise tools before each client.

Government Acts

All tools and equipment should be used in accordance with legislation and local by laws. An employer or employee could be liable if found to be ignorant of the salon rules based on the government acts.

To make the running and working of a salon safe for us the environment and for public safety these government acts were past.

1 - Provision and use of work equipment 1992
2 - Personal protective equipment at work 1992
3 - Manual handling operations regulations 1992
4 - Electricity at work regulations 1990
5 - Environmental protection 1990
6 - C.O.S.H.H. act 1989
7 - Health and safety at work act 1974
8 - Fire precautions act 1971
9 - The employers liability act 1969
10 - Ospra 1963

These laws and any information regarding them can be found at Contacting your local health and safety office or library.

Manufacturers of products and equipment are bound by their rules on health and safety and so are we. They must label their products and equipment with instructions, hazards and precautions. When using products or equipment it is important to follow the manufacturers instructions and precautions because all products and equipment are different and you must be made aware of any extra precautions that must be taken.

When handling products you have a responsibility to abide by the guidelines set by the manufacturer of the product, health and safety and the salon rules based on the government acts.

Handling and storing tools and products

  • Cutting tools
    Keep cutting tools fully sterilised. Be aware that you are using a sharp implement at all times.
    Do not store in clothes or pockets. Make shure tools are sterile before storing in a pouch or similar container out of the reach of small children.
  • Perming / Relaxing products
    Follow the manufacturers instructions. Wear protective equipment when using. Clean up any spillage immediately.
    Store in fully labeled containers and keep containers in a cool, dry, locked cabinet in the stock room.
  • Colouring products
    Follow the manufacturers instructions. Wear protective equipment when using. Clean up any spillage immediately.
    Store in fully labeled containers and keep containers in a cool, dry, locked cabinet in the stock room.
  • Styling and finishing products
    Handle via the manufacturers instructions.
    Keep containers in a cool, dry, locked cabinet in the stock room.
  • Electical equipment
    Know the manufacturers instructions. Check equipment regularly. Do not use near water unless specified by the manufacturers instructions. Make shure all points are clean and switched off when not in use.
    Do not store electrical equipment with trailing flexes. Keep out of the way and switched off.

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