Up to 70% of hairdressers suffer from skin damage. With this in mind, JLT Business Insurance Services have provided the following questions and answers to help prevent you being affected by Occupational Dermatitis.
Question: What is Occupational Dermatitis?
Answer: Occupational dermatitis is an inflammatory reaction of the skin caused by, or made worse by, exposure to irritants or allergens at work. Irritant contact dermatitis can flare up quickly following undefended
exposure to strong chemicals such as bleach. Similarly, allergic response can be almost instantaneous or develop over time.
Main signs and symptoms are
• Flaking or scaling
• Cracking or blistering
Question: Is dermatitis prevalent in the workplace?
Answer: HSE reports the following dermatitis statistics based on ratio to 100,000 workers:
Motor vehicle panel beaters 12 employees
Printers 18 employees
Metal workers 47 employees
Hairdressers 98 employees
These are reported incidents, but it is recognised that up to 70% of employees in the hairdressing industry may suffer some form of skin damage.
Question: Why is it so high among hairdressers?
Answer: The main cause is frequent contact with chemicals in hairdressing products when shampooing, conditioning, colouring or bleaching:
• Washing, shampooing, conditioning or colouring hair with bare hands.
• Handling equipment soaked in chemicals.
• Touching contaminated clothing, tools or containers.
• Chemical splashes onto skin when preparing hairdressing products for use.
• Aerosol or dust landing on skin or being picked up from touched surfaces.
Question: Isn't this addressed by Health and Safety Management in the hairdressing industry?
Answer: Yes, it is. In summary: The Salons main Health and Safety Policy document must be documented where there are five or more employees; Data sheets should be held for all substances and chemicals purchased,
this is a requirement under the CHIP Regulations. Once data sheets are attained, management are able to undertake a competent risk assessment under the Control Of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations. An assessment
should be completed and held for all hairdressing products; employees must be made aware of the hazards involved in products they are using; management must monitor early symptoms of dermatitis; Employees should be trained
in control measures instigated and records kept. It would also be helpful to attempt to determine if an applicant for employment has any allergies.
Question: What controls should hairdressers consider and implement?
Answer: Hairdressing personnel should be trained to wear disposable, non-latex gloves when undertaking wet operations.
• Choose a longer - length glove; folding the cuff back to stop water running down the
• Change gloves between clients.
• Pick a smooth glove to stop hair snagging.
• Ensure their gloves are a good fit.
• Remove gloves by peeling them down from the cuff, while avoiding touching skin
with wet glove.
• Use a fresh pair of gloves for each new task.
• Ensure gloves are worn when cleaning up spills.
• Rotate jobs to minimise wet work.
• Develop the habit of examining their hands for any potential symptoms such as
dryness, flaking of inflammation. Dry their hands thoroughly with a soft cotton or
paper towel and understand that this is part of their skin care regime. Moisturise
after washing hands as well as at the beginning and end of the working day.
This editorial has been provided by JLT Business Insurance Services.