RR623 - Occupational asthma, respiratory issues and dermatitis in hairdressers and nail bars
Workers in hairdressers, beauty salons and nail bars are at potential risk of developing skin and
respiratory ill health conditions if good working practices and effective exposure control methods are not applied.
This inspection initiative in London focussed on HSE’s priorities for preventing dermatitis and asthma
caused or made worse by work.
Between October 2006 and April 2007, Local Authority Environmental Health Practitioners inspected
205 hairdressing and nail salons and returned the inspection checklists to HSL for analysis.
- Inspectors believed the health risks associated with the use of hair and nail products were generally understood by
senior staff. Employees had been made aware of these risks and took suitable precautions to protect themselves.
Approximately two fifths of the salons understood COSHH assessments, kept a list of products that they used and
recorded which of these products were potentially hazardous to health.
- Protective gloves were used widely but only half of the salons provided instructions or guidance on how to remove
gloves correctly. Over three quarters of the gloves that were provided for staff were latex. It is not known if these
were low protein, powder-free.
- Ventilated/downdraught tables were not widely used. Dust masks are not a recommended control method, yet
employees in half of the nail bars that were inspected used them.
- Recommendations and further scientific and technical support activities
- Further support activity should be to undertake re-visits, to ascertain whether the correct controls have since
been put in place as a result of this inspection initiative and other awareness raising initiatives. In particular these
activities could focus on glove use and the use of effective controls for dust, odour and fumes.
- Further initiatives should be directed at this industry to improve knowledge and implementation of COSHH and to
ensure risk assessment and application of controls is carried out more systematically.
- Following from these recommendations, there is a proposal for coordinated further interventions in this industry in
London in 2008-2009.
This report and the work it describes were funded by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Its contents, including any
opinions and/or conclusions expressed, are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect HSE policy.
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