Health and safety must be a priority in your beauty salon. It’s vital to protect your staff and clients, operate within the law and be insured against potentially expensive legal action should something go wrong.
This blog post covers:
- What the law says
- Carrying out a risk assessment
- Creating a health and safety policy
- Staff training
- Appointing a first aider
- Your staff and dermatitis
- Your staff and musculoskeletal problems
- Allergy alert and skin sensitivity testing
- Age restrictions on treatments
- Treatments and health and safety
- Dealing with hazardous substances
- Keeping your salon and equipment safe
Your beauty salon must comply with all relevant legislation including:
• Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
• Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH) 2002.
• Cosmetic Products (Safety) Regulations 2004.
You have a duty of care towards your clients and employees.
It is a legal requirement for you to display the health and safety poster approved by the Health and Safety Executive.
The law says every employer must carry out a risk assessment, and if you have more than five employees it should be written down. However, it’s best practice to have a written record even if you have fewer than five employees.
Make a list of anything that could cause injury or harm in your salon. (The NHBF health and safety toolkit includes a set of 18 risk assessment templates covering the main hazards in beauty salon workplaces.)
It’s a good idea to involve your staff as they may raise issues that you haven’t thought of.
You will then need to set out the steps you have taken to protect your staff and clients from the risks you have identified.
You must carry out a specific risk assessment for employees under the age of 18 to consider additional factors such as their immaturity and lack of experience. (A risk assessment for young people is included in the NHBF health and safety toolkit).
If you have five or more employees you must have a written health and safety policy. However, it’s good practice to have one even if you have fewer than five employees. (The NHBF health and safety toolkit includes a health and safety policy template.)
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The law says you must provide health and safety training for your staff. Employees must have training before they are exposed to any risk and you must record it has taken place.
‘Little and often’ is a good rule for ongoing health and safety training. This ensures health and safety stays at the forefront of your employees’ minds. Consider setting aside 15 minutes at every staff meeting to cover particular issues. (The NHBF health and safety toolkit includes guidelines for employees and the self-employed working in salons which can be used for induction and training.)
You’ll need to have at least one appointed person to be in charge of first aid arrangements in your beauty salon. It’s also recommended that at least one person is trained in emergency first aid at work (EFAW). Find EFAW training courses run by the NHBF.
For beauty salons offering advanced treatments, a full First Aid at Work course is advisable.
Your employees may be at risk of dermatitis. Dermatitis is a skin disorder that causes redness, itchiness and swelling. It can also cause flaking, blistering, weeping and cracking. It can be caused by:
• Contact with water, detergents or massage oil that irritate the skin.
• An allergic response to chemicals; this can take a while to develop.
To protect against dermatitis, your staff must wear disposable non-latex powder-free gloves (nitrile or vinyl) when doing anything that may expose them to the risk of dermatitis. They should change gloves between clients. Encourage your staff to check their hands regularly for signs of dermatitis.
Your staff may also experience strains, sprains and general pain due to doing physically repetitive work that involves a lot of standing and bending.
You can reduce the risk by providing:
• Height-adjustable massage tables and couches to ensure a comfortable working position for all your staff.
• Wheeled stools.
• Advice on the best positions to work in – for example, keeping feet apart when standing.
The NHBF provides a toolkit to help therapists decide whether an allergy alert test is needed for clients having hair colour or eyebrow/eyelash tints.
You must carry out allergy alert tests at least 48 hours before applying hair colour or eyebrow/eyelash tints.
If your client suffers any reaction at all, don’t go ahead with the appointment. Keep confidential records of the allergy alert tests and outcomes.
The NHBF Allergy Alert Consultation and Colour Record Cards are approved by Coversure Insurance Services, the NHBF’s preferred insurance provider.
(If you’re insured with another provider, make sure they will cover your use of the NHBF Allergy Alert Consultation and Colour Record Cards).
Your staff should also be tested for allergies. Keep confidential records of the results and any action taken.
When storing confidential client or staff information you will need to comply with GDPR, including getting client consent for collecting and keeping health-related information such as client consultation forms.
Don’t forget: hair dye, including dye for brow and lash tints, must not be applied to anyone under 16, or used by any employees under the age of 16.
The NHBF also provides guidance on skin sensitivity testing. Find out more about our allergy alert and sensitivity testing toolkit for beauty salons.
Download our detailed Member-only guide to GDPR.
Under-16s and vulnerable adults
Carrying out beauty treatments on under-16s is not recommended.
Beauty therapists must protect and promote the welfare of under-16s and vulnerable adults. You must ensure treatments are safe and appropriate and that the individual wants to have the treatment or treatments. You should always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and guidelines.
You must ensure you have written permission from a parent or legal guardian before going ahead with the following treatments:
• Earlobe piercing.
• Waxing (not intimate waxing).
A parent or responsible adult must be present during treatments provided to under-16s.
The following treatments and services should not be given to anyone under the age of 18 or provided by a therapist under the age of 18:
• Botox, dermal fillers or similar anti-wrinkle treatments.
• UV therapy, for example, sunbeds.
• Intimate waxing.
• IPL (intense pulsed light) treatments.
All beauty treatments must be carried out by therapists who have the necessary qualifications, training and experience, otherwise your insurance will not cover you if things go wrong. Always follow manufacturers’ instructions and make sure you client is old enough to have the treatment or therapy and does not have any medical condition which would put them at risk.
You must also ensure that your salon is licensed to carry out special treatments (this could include, for example, massages, manicures, chiropody, light treatments (sunbeds), electric treatments (electrolysis) and other treatments involving heat, light or vapour (sauna or other bath treatments).
Licences are also required for tattooing (remember: permanent make-up is effectively a tattoo), electrolysis and piercing. Find out more.
Some local authorities also require your therapists to be registered with them. The requirements vary across the UK, so always check with your local authority.
As part of your risk assessment, make sure you know exactly which substances you have in your beauty salon and the risks associated with them. Ensure your staff know how to use and dispose of them safely.
Always store hazardous substances in their original containers, away from direct sunlight and preferably in a locked cupboard. Make sure you know which substances should not be poured down the sink.
As a beauty salon owner, you will also have to ensure that your premises are safe and healthy for your staff and clients. Include this in your risk assessment. For example:
• Your salon should be adequately ventilated.
• Gas and electricity appliances should be regularly checked.
• Measures should be taken to avoid slips, trips and falls.
• Guard against legionella by checking your water on a regular basis. Specialist checks are required for spa operators.
• Make sure you have smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, a clear evacuation plan and regular fire drills.
A complete pack of risk assessments is available in the NHBF health and safety toolkit.
• Understand health and safety law and how it applies to your beauty salon.
• Carry out risk assessments that cover all aspects of health and safety for your premises and the treatments you provide.
• Create a health and safety policy.
• Train your staff on a regular basis and appoint a first aider.
• Take steps to prevent dermatitis and musculoskeletal disorders among your staff.
• Set up an allergy alert testing system approved by your insurance provider.
• Be aware of age restrictions for some treatments.
• Make sure staff are qualified to carry out treatments and make sure your insurance covers you for all the treatments provided in your salon.
• Keep your salon and equipment safe for staff and clients.
More from the NHBF
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• Allergy alert and sensitivity testing guide.
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