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What is the workplace policy salon health & safety?

Updated April 17, 2017

While safety standards for beauty and nail salons vary by state, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Health and Safety Administration and Environmental Protection Agency has set standards for what is considered unsafe levels of the chemicals used in salons. In addition, the Food & Drug Administration has banned some chemicals which were used until recently. Even so, the air quality in beauty and nail salons can be hazardous if there is not good ventilation. In addition, prolonged exposure to nail care products may be hazardous to pregnant women and their unborn children.

Chemicals in salons

The most common chemicals in a beauty and nail salons are ammonia, toluene, acetone and formaldehyde, in addition to glues, acrylics and other chemicals. Ammonia is used in hair coloring, toluene in nail polish, formaldehyde in nail hardeners and acetone is found in many nail polish removers. One chemical used in making artificial nails, methyl methacrylate, has been banned and replaced with ethyl methacrylate which is considered safer by the FDA.

Chemicals in salons

The most common chemicals in a beauty and nail salons are ammonia, toluene, acetone and formaldehyde, in addition to glues, acrylics and other chemicals. Ammonia is used in hair colouring, toluene in nail polish, formaldehyde in nail hardeners and acetone is found in many nail polish removers. One chemical used in making artificial nails, methyl methacrylate, has been banned and replaced with ethyl methacrylate which is considered safer by the FDA.

Ventilation in salons

Most states have safety standards for beauty and nail salons and mandate that salons be well ventilated. This is why is the chemical smell outside a beauty and nail salon may be stronger then it is inside; the vapours are being pulled from the salon by a ventilation system. However, ventilation dilutes, but does not completely remove, contaminants from the air. While most salons have a general ventilation system, it is helpful to also install a local exhaust system. Local exhaust ventilation captures and removes chemicals at their source. To protect salon employees and clients from chemicals in salons, both kinds of ventilation should be used.

Ventilation tables in beauty and nail salons

The ventilated table is the most effective way of getting rid of airborne contaminants in a beauty or nail salon, because the vented table places local exhaust ventilation close to the work area. By having the chemicals in salons pulled away directly at the worktable, they are eliminated before they can be breathed in. It is helpful to ventilate this air directly to the outdoors through a local exhaust system.

Respiratory protection in beauty and nail salons

Some employees at beauty and nail salons may choose to wear a respirator. The most effective kind of respirators have a carbon filter and by wearing it on a regular basis almost all the airborne chemicals can be filtered out. However, the respirators can be bulky and uncomfortable, and many employees may choose not to wear them. In many cases, simply wearing a dust mask may reduce the amount of chemicals breathed in thereby reducing irritation.

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About the Author

Amy Wolffing has been writing professionally for over 25 years, writing everything from magazine features and articles to biographies and oral histories. She began as an entertainment reporter focusing on music, before branching out into other areas. Amy graduated from Temple University with a BA in Political Science and has worked for 15 years in the area of human resources training and development.