Increasing worker safety in hair salons and beauty schools

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has specific guidelines for those who run, manage or operate hair salons. Salon workers, even those working in a beauty school facility, are constantly around chemicals that pose a risk to their health.

Hair stylists use certain forms of formaldehyde in the workplace to dye or color hair or to perform a Brazilian Blowout, which is a straightening process that uses chemicals on customer's hair.

However, there are specific OSHA standards on the level of formaldehyde that can be present in the workplace. OSHA added that it encourages salon schools and parlors to use the proper products that are safe for customers and workers, as well as the right air purification equipment to collect harmful airborne contaminates lingering in the workplace environment.

Increasing worker safety in hair salons and beauty schools 1Hair salons and beauty schools have certain restrictions on Brazilian Blowout treatments per day.

Formaldehyde is not the only chemical that salon employees and hairdressers are exposed to in the workplace. Products with high amounts of ammonia, sodium hydroxide and Phenylenediamine (PPD) are all present in hair salons and beauty schools as well. Hair dye often has ammonia to allow the coloring molecules to enter the hair. As for sodium hydroxide, many hair relaxers include this chemical, and PPD is often found in hair dyes.

All of these chemicals can cause breathing problems, hair loss, eczema, asthma, allergic reactions, eye irritation, kidney and liver failure and death, the Labor and Workforce Development section of Massachusetts's official website stated.

State-specific regulations
According to the Houston Chronicle, certain states have specific regulations that hairdressers must not use more than 0.75 parts formaldehyde per million parts of air throughout an eight-hour shift for employees. Additionally, salon and beauty school owners must provide safety gloves to handle hair dyes and coloring products and chemical-resistant aprons.

In a report from European Commission, in 2009, there were 22 hair dye substances banned from hair salons because some of the airborne contaminates caused bladder cancer, Buffalo Rising reported. Günter Verheugen, the vice president of the European Commission, said it's still a battle to prevent these harmful chemicals from being used in the hair salon market.

"Substances for which there is no proof that they are safe will disappear from the market," said Verheugen. "Our high safety standards do not only protect EU consumers, they also give legal certainty to the European cosmetics industry."

According to the source the U.S. now requires hair product manufacturers to provide data on the product ingredients or report cosmetic-induced injuries.

By Amy Roulier

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