Hair salons can expose workers to an array of health and safety risks, capable of causing serious health concerns.
As an employer in the beauty industry, it’s crucial that you are aware of the potential health and safety risks in your workplace, and that you know how to combat them. Without addressing these concerns, you’re at risk of facing fines for non-compliance with Employment Standards and OHS legislation.
Despite the risks involved with neglecting health and safety in workplaces in the hairdressing industry, employers who educate themselves and their staff on the risks in their work environment and implement a plan to address them will reduce the likelihood of accidents.
Here are some of the potential hazards faced in hair salons–and some strategies on how to prevent them.
Unfortunately, due to the nature of their work, employees in the hair industry are prone to experiencing ergonomic injuries. These are caused by standing for long hours, working in unnatural postures, performing repetitive tasks, heavy lifting, and enduring long hours.
Hair salon owners should ensure that they design their salons ergonomically to avoid these issues. This includes providing equipment at the correct height, with adjustable stools and chairs for sitting, and ensuring that materials and equipment like shampoos or hairdryers are within easy reach.
You should also ensure that staff take regular breaks and take turns with tasks to prevent injuries–for example, rotate basin duty to prevent strain from leaning and too much contact with water. Employers should also aim to buy equipment, like scissors and hair tools, that are both safe and easy to use and store any frequently used heavy objects between the knee and shoulder height.
Exposure to harsh chemicals like bleach, aerosols, and cleaning products is common in hair salons and can lead to serious illnesses, including skin and respiratory disorders.
To reduce risks involved with exposure, employers should determine which products contain hazardous chemicals or ingredients and accurately label them, always aim to use less irritating or harmful products, follow instructions for safe use, and avoid contact with carcinogenic ingredients or toxic hair dyes.
They should also train workers in WHMIS and safe handling of hazardous products, safely dispose of products, and provide appropriate ventilation when working with hazardous fumes.
To avoid injury, employers should also ensure the use of personal protective equipment (PPE). This includes gloves, aprons, and eye protection. You should also ensure equipment is made from the appropriate material that will protect against the chemical you’re working with.
Burns and cuts
Some of the most common safety concerns faced by staff in hair salons are the risk of cuts, bruises, and burns from scissors, hairdryers, chemicals, and other equipment.
To reduce the risk of injury, staff should inspect tools and equipment and ensure they’re in good condition, read the manufacturer’s guide to ensure they’re using them properly, and ensure all sharp objects are disposed of safely. They should also make sure they disinfect equipment after every use.
Slips, trips, and falls
Slips, trips, and falls from wet and untidy floors, stray wires, and obstructed floors are unfortunately common in the beauty industry.
To minimize the risk of injury, employers should ensure that floors are cleaned floors at regular intervals; and that any spills are cleaned right away. They should also ensure that employees wear comfortable shoes with non-skid soles.
The hair salon is inherently a noisy workplace due to the frequency of people talking and equipment like hair dryers often being used.
To avoid strain on their employees, employers should aim to purchase quiet equipment and use noise-reducing surfaces.
Workers in hair salons are prone to shift work and long hours. It can also be a very stressful environment due to the fast-paced nature of appointments and dealing with difficult clients. To promote healthy mental health in the hair salon, employers should try and evenly distribute working hours, not overbook staff, and ensure buffer periods in between appointments.
To boost morale and promote positive mental health in the hair salon, employers should treat all employees in a respectful manner, avoid gossip, and try and involve all employees in decision-making to encourage a fair workplace without any hierarchy or favouritism.
Fire hazards are also common hazards in hair salons. Employers should ensure they follow electrical safety measures, train workers on fire safety, maintain a first-aid kit and have first-aid training.
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