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Important Information for Salon Workers

 

HAZARD ALERTS

The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) issued an April 2011 hazard alert, warning that popular hair straighteners such as Brazilian Blowout release formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is a carcinogenic chemical linked to issues such as cancers of the nose and throat, menstrual disorders, bronchitis, fluid build-up in the lungs, and other serious health concerns.  

States such as California, New York, Connecticut, Washington, and Oregon have also issued hazard alerts. Below is a full list.

Hazard Warnings Issued By Government Authorities:

 

HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF

Minimize inhalation: Make sure your place of work is doing its best to minimize inhalation. Install a local exhaust ventilation system, make sure to always turn on the general ventilation system (HVAC) during work hours, avoid ozone generating air cleaning devices, transfer products into smaller containers to reduce exposure, keep trash cans tightly closed, and regularly change trash liners.

Minimize skin exposure: Minimize skin exposure by: wearing disposable nitrile gloves, choosing clothing that appropriately protects and covers your body, using small amounts of product when performing services, and keeping containers tightly closed after use. Thoroughly wash hands before and after using products and keep salon products away from eating areas.

Use preventative equipment

  • Masks: Masks will prevent inhalation of dust particles. However, masks will not prevent breathing in hazardous vapors.
    • Use dust masks approved by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
  • Gloves: Gloves prevent salon workers from absorbing dangerous chemicals into their skin and bloodstream, and prevent nail damage.
    • Use nitrile gloves, as latex and vinyl gloves are permeable to many of the chemicals found in nail product ingredients
  • Respirators: When salons have proper ventilation systems in place, a respirator is not normally needed. However, if a worker has a preexisting health condition (i.e. asthma, bronchitis, etc.), the salon worker should check with OSHA guidelines to determine the necessity of a respirator.

Use green products

Many traditional salon beauty products such as nail polishes, nail polish removers, hair dyes, and hair straightening solutions contain harmful chemicals that can be absorbed by both salon workers and customers. By switching to greener product lines, salons can save both their workers and their customers from debilitating health conditions such as cancer, bronchitis, menstrual disorders, and severe rashes. 

 

TO REPORT HEALTH COMPLICATIONS

If you are a salon worker worried about your exposure level, file a complaint with the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) and request an inspection of your workplace. 

If you are worried about the health impacts of hazardous products such as Brazilian Blowout, you can also contact the FDA and let them know what you think about the use of dangerous, carcinogenic chemicals in beauty products.

 

EMPLOYMENT STATUS

Many salon workers, especially nail salon workers, are designated as “independent contractors” instead of employees under the law. Unfortunately, this means that such workers do not receive labor protections, including those related to wages and hours, health and safety, and face obstacles to unionizing. 

 

RESOURCES