Hairdressing salons

When running a hairdressing salon there are a number of precautions you need to take to ensure the health and safety of yourself, your staff and your customers. Fortunately it is fairly rare for incidents to occur, but owners and managers must ensure that appropriate measures are taken to minimise the risk of injury and ill-health to others.

Chemicals and substances hazardous to health (COSHH)

A wide variety of chemicals are used in salons, such as hair colours, bleaches, perming solutions and cleaning products, many of which can be hazardous if not used correctly. Care should also be taken with dust, fumes, vapours and mists. It is essential to follow instructions for use and the information provided on the safety data sheet. All staff should be fully aware of the requirements for each product and the appropriate control measures.

Extra care should be taken with any chemicals displaying the red and white diamond warning symbol as they will be particularly hazardous.

The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH) requires that a written risk assessment should be maintained for hazardous chemicals and should be updated as necessary.

Particular care should be taken if staff show signs of dermatitis or other skin conditions. Non latex disposable gloves and barrier creams will help to minimise the risks when using chemicals.

The regular use of chemicals may also contribute to some respiratory problems and as such it is essential that adequate precautions are taken for example by suitable ventilation.

Electrical safety

All electrical equipment must be maintained to prevent danger. Portable items such as hairdryers, clippers and straighteners are often subjected to considerable use and so it is essential that a proper maintenance programme be followed. As these items are used in moist environments there is a greater risk of electric shock if a fault develops. Where defects are found the equipment must be taken out of use and repaired or disposed of.

It is strongly recommended that all sockets are protected with residual current devices to minimise the risk of shock should a fault develop.

Electrical inspections and testing should be recorded (preferably in a book), and it is recommended that equipment is marked with the date of the test, the result, and the date the next test is due.

General hygiene and legionella

All instruments (for example, scissors, clippers, and blades) should be kept clean and sterilised regularly. Legionella can develop in standing water in pipes and so any taps or shower heads that are not used for any period of time should be flushed through using your own legionella risk assessment and control measures.

Slips, trips and falls

Staff and customers may get injured if they trip over objects or trailing wires, or slip on hair, spillages, or wet floors. Floors should be kept as clear as possible from obstructions or moisture and should be well maintained at all times.

Working practices

Staff often have to stand for long periods of time, and may need to undertake manual handling tasks as well as having to bend to wash hair. Consideration should be given to all of these issues and what steps can be taken to reduce the likelihood of chronic injuries to your employees.

You should also think about any additional risks that may be posed to any staff who undertake lone working – from their physical safety when working alone, to how they will get help should an incident occur. Staff should also be aware of the risks associated with using sharp instruments and blades.