This Week's News 17.11.17 - HEALTH & SAFETY SPECIAL

Employers' Liability insurance - Important Information from the Health & Safety Executive (HSE)

"Do I need to tell my employees that I have employers' liability insurance?"
When you take out or renew a policy, your insurer will give you a certificate of employers' liability insurance. This must state clearly the minimum level of cover provided and the companies covered by the policy. You must display a copy of the certificate of insurance where your employees can easily read it. Since 1st October 2008 you have been allowed to display your certificate electronically. Employers choosing this method need to ensure their employees know how and where to find the certificate and have reasonable access to it. Factors to consider include the availability of the chosen format and ensuring employees understand how to use it. For example, this arrangement may be suitable where all employees have access to a computer as part of their job. Employers are reminded that when we visit or call a salon and ask for the employers' liability insurance, the person being asked for the details should know where the information is and have access to it. This should be a part of a new member of staff's induction process and so if the apprentice is asked they should be able to quote the details without asking another member of staff. A reminder to all staff when there is a new policy would also be a good way of ensuring that everyone is aware as they should be.

Protective gloves to be worn for foils

Most of us will say that we automatically put on a seat belt when getting into a car. That's how it should be with wearing gloves in the salon. The standards for hairdressing state that gloves must be worn when performing any service that involves the use of chemicals, meaning that gloves must be worn when doing foils. Please ensure apprentices wear gloves when they first start learning foils, so it becomes second nature.

Skin tests

Salons have a legal obligation under section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act to put client safety foremost and industry guidelines from the Cosmetics, Toiletry and Perfumery Association state that a skin allergy test should be carried out at least 48 hours before applying colour to clients' hair. Hair colourants have been extensively studied and their safety has been repeatedly confirmed by independent scientists and regulatory authorities alike. Hair colourants themselves are regulated under the strict EU Cosmetics Regulation and are safe to use when the instructions are followed carefully. Reactions to hair colourants can occur for a very small number of people, in the same way that some individuals can react to a variety of foods and natural substances. A skin test must be carried out 48 hours before using a product that contains PPD (paraphenylenediamine) and/or PTD (paratoluenediamine) to test if the client is allergic to the chemicals contained in permanent tints, and other types of colorants, such as quasi colours. It takes up to 48 hours for the body to develop an immune system response, so if you cut corners, you risk missing a skin reaction.

Report a workplace accident online

Last week the HSE published the annual statistics for health and safety at work in Great Britain. Key figures included:

  • 137 workers killed at work
  • 609,000 injuries occurred at work
  • 70,116 injuries to employees reported under RIDDOR

To find out how you make a RIDDOR report for a workplace accident, take a look at the HSE's dedicated website section here.

Ensure your business doesn't slip up

Slips and trips are the most common cause of injury at work, causing 40 per cent of all reported major injuries. You can view or download the HSE's guide to preventing slips and trips in the workplace here. This guide describes measures that employers may need to implement to help prevent slips and trips and will be useful to employees and their safety representatives too.

Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH)

Under COSHH, employers need to either prevent or reduce their workers' exposure to substances that are hazardous to their health. Employers must assess the risk of substances hazardous to health by carrying out a risk assessment.

Substances can take many forms and include:

  • chemicals
  • products containing chemicals
  • fumes
  • dusts
  • vapours
  • mists

COSHH and hairdressers - key messages

  • Frequent contact with water and shampoo can irritate the skin leading to dermatitis.
  • Some hairdressing and cleaning products can cause dermatitis and skin allergies
  • Some dusty products like persulphates and henna can cause asthma
  • Some hair sprays can make asthma worse

There are simple things you can do to prevent dermatitis and asthma:

  • Keep the salon well-ventilated
  • Wear disposable non-latex gloves for shampooing, colouring and bleaching
  • Dry your hands thoroughly after washing with a soft towel
  • Moisturise your hands as often as possible
  • Change your gloves between clients
  • Check your skin regularly for early signs of skin problems.
  • Visit the HSE hairdressing web pages for more information.

If the packaging has any of the hazard symbols, it is classed as a hazardous substance

This leaflet is aimed at employers in small businesses. It will also be useful for trade union and employee health and safety representatives. It explains how to control hazardous substances at work and comply with the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations 2002 (as amended). Working with substances hazardous to health: A brief guide to COSHH

Shining a light on work related illness

The HSE's Go Home Healthy campaign aims to help reduce the number of working days lost due to work-related ill health, while tackling the cause of work-related stress, MSDs(musculoskeletal disorders) and occupational lung disease.
Last year:

Make sure your workers Go Home Healthy - you can download the campaign pack.

Skin damage - dermatitis

Up to 70 per cent of hairdressers suffer from work-related skin damage such as dermatitis at some point during their career - most cases are absolutely preventable. What is work related contact dermatitis? The main signs and symptoms are:

  • Dryness
  • Redness
  • Itching
  • Flaking/Scaling
  • Cracking/Blistering
  • Pain

Dermatitis can't be passed from one person to another. It can develop at any time, or not at all - everyone is different. There are two types of contact dermatitis: irritant contact dermatitis and allergic contact dermatitis.

Irritant contact dermatitis can flare up after a few contacts with strong chemicals like bleach. More commonly it develops gradually through frequent wet working or working with milder chemicals like shampoo.

Allergic contact dermatitis can develop quickly after only a few contacts with a substance like shampoo or colours. Sometimes, it can take months or even years for the allergy to develop. Once you are allergic, you are allergic for life and this could happen at any time, even if you have had no problems previously.

With allergic contact dermatitis, the things you can become allergic to at work might well also be in things you use at home - like your shampoo, or your household cleaners. So if you become allergic to something in the salon it could well affect all aspects of your life.
Hairdressers in the HSE's glove trial survey say:

  • 80 per cent found the longer length, non-latex gloves comfortable to wear.
  • 74 per cent noted that they could still handle clients' hair freely without snagging.
  • 62 per cent said they will wear the gloves for wet work in the future.

It's simple to cut out dermatitis; use disposable gloves, dry your hands thoroughly and moisturise to keep your hands healthy.

  • Up to 70 per cent of hairdressers suffer some form of skin damage
  • Dermatitis is caused by contact with chemicals present in hairdressing products and prolonged contact with water
  • Dermatitis is unsightly and unpleasant and causes personal suffering
  • Dermatitis is bad for your career as well as your skin


Step 1 - Wear disposable non-latex gloves when rinsing, shampooing, colouring, perming, etc.
Step 2 - Dry your hands thoroughly with a soft cotton or paper towel.
Step 3 - Moisturise after washing your hands, as well as at the start and end of each day. It's easy to miss fingertips, finger webs and wrists. See PDF 'Skin care' for more information.
Step 4 - Change gloves between clients. Make sure you don't contaminate your hands when you take them off. See PDF 'Correct removal of gloves' for more information.
Step 5 - Check skin regularly for early signs of dermatitis. See PDF 'Skin checks' for more information.

Download a free poster to display in the staff room from here.

Do I need a first aider?

The HSE cannot tell you what provision you should make for first aid. Employers are best placed to understand the exact nature of the workplace and decide what needs to be provided. First aid provision must be 'adequate and appropriate in the circumstances'. This means that you must provide sufficient first aid equipment (first aid kit), facilities and personnel at all times. To decide the provisions you need, you should carry out a first-aid needs assessment. This assessment should consider the circumstances of your workplace, workforce and the hazards and risks that may be present. The findings will help you decide what first-aid arrangements you need to put in place. There are no hard and fast rules on exact numbers, and you will need to take into account all the relevant circumstances of your particular workplace.

In assessing your first-aid needs, you should consider:

  • the nature of the work you do
  • workplace hazards and risks (including specific hazards requiring special arrangements)
  • the nature and size of your workforce
  • the work patterns of your staff
  • holiday and other absences of those who will be first-aiders and appointed persons
  • your organisation's history of accidents

You may also need to consider:

  • first-aid provision for non-employees (e.g. members of the public)
  • the remoteness of any of your sites from emergency medical services

The minimum requirement in terms of personnel is to appoint a person to take charge of first-aid arrangements. The roles of this appointed person include looking after the first-aid equipment and facilities and calling the emergency services when required. The appointed person can also provide emergency cover, within their role and competence, where a first-aider is absent due to unforeseen circumstances. An appointed person is not required to have any formal training. The HSE has further guidance on all the factors above that will help you carry out your first-aid needs assessment.

What should a first-aid box in the workplace contain?

The decision on what to provide will be influenced by the findings of the first-aid needs assessment. As a guide, where work activities involve low hazards, a minimum stock of first-aid items might be:

  • a leaflet giving general guidance on first aid (for example, HSE's leaflet Basic advice on first aid at work
  • individually wrapped sterile plasters (assorted sizes), appropriate to the type of work (hypoallergenic plasters can be provided if necessary)
  • sterile eye pads
  • individually wrapped triangular bandages, preferably sterile
  • safety pins
  • large sterile individually wrapped unmedicated wound dressings
  • medium-sized sterile individually wrapped unmedicated wound dressings
  • disposable gloves (for advice on latex gloves please see Selecting latex gloves

(This is only suggested contents)

What should NOT be in a first-aid box?

One of the apprentices comes to you complaining of a terrible headache. Good thing you have that aspirin in the first aid kit, right? Wrong. It is in fact against the law to keep any pain killers in your workplace kit. What if the apprentice has blood issues, and the tablet's effect sets off a complication? Or she's on medication that will react badly to the aspirin? You'd be liable for what happens to her next. A simple mistake with devastating consequences. In general, any tablets and medications should not be kept in the first-aid box - so that rules out headache tablets, cold remedies, cough medicine, asthma inhalers etc.

Checking electrical appliances are safe and PAT testing

Staff must be trained to visually check electrical appliances are safe before every use. Cracked casings, exposed wires, smoking, sparks, overheating or unusual noises all indicate that an appliance should be removed from the salon floor and not be used. When a faulty appliance is removed from the salon floor it should be clearly labelled 'DO NOT USE' If it is not repairable by an electrician, the plug should be cut off to remove any possibility that someone may use it. NEVER attempt to repair electrical appliances yourself because you are putting yourself and others in extreme danger. Many salons have their portable appliances tested to verify they are safe - this is called 'PAT' testing. Salon owners do not have a legal obligation to have PAT tests but many employers gain piece of mind if an expert checks that every portable appliance is safe. If salons choose not to pay for PAT tests, they should carry out a visual inspection of all portable appliances at least every year. See Maintaining electrical appliances in low risk environments.

The risks of blood borne viruses

Employer have to avoid exposure to Blood borne viruses (BBVs) in the workplace. It cites the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 as legislation under which an employer has a duty to protect the health of employees or anyone else affected by the work involved, such as the public. BBVs are carried in the blood of some people and are potentially harmful to some but not to others. They can also be found in other body fluids.

The main BBVs of concern are:

  • Hepatitis B Virus (HBV)
  • Hepatitis C Virus
  • Hepatitis D

All of which cause Hepatitis, a liver disease. In addition, Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) can lead to Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), which attacks the body's immune system. The work of hairdressers and beauty therapists is listed as occupations where contact may take place through exposure to blood and other body fluids. Direct exposure to infected blood can happen through accidental contamination by a sharp instrument such as scissors, razor or needle, contamination of open wounds, skin abrasions, damaged skin due to eczema, or splashes to the eyes, nose and mouth. The Control of Substance hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH) provides specific legislation on hazards that arise from working with biological agents such as BBVs. Under COSHH an employer has a legal duty to assess the risk of infection for employees and others to who may be affected by the work. Suitable precautions must be taken once a risk has been identified. The spread of virus forms of infection can only be controlled by the application of a strict hygiene code, which starts with regular sterilisation of equipment and tools. ALL towels and gowns should be laundered after EACH use. The regular and thorough cleaning of basins, work surfaces and toilet areas are of paramount importance to protect yourself and your clients. You need a policy statement outlining a 'code of practice' for dealing with blood or any other body fluid and a safe method of disposal of the contaminated materials used for 'cleaning up' after the event. Although the risk of contact may appear small, it is on a par with the 'fire risk' and must be given equal status in the overall management of health and safety.

Produce a proposed statement, which should appear in the health and safety paperwork for your salon on the subject of BBVs:

  • Identify the areas where hazards may be present - any contact with the client when using 'sharps'
  • Who may be harmed - all staff especially the person with an uncovered skin abrasion/open wound (this means any break in the skins surface)
  • Assess the likelihood of how BBVs could cause ill health - employers should consider the frequency and scale of contacts with blood or body fluids, the number of different people's blood/body fluids with which contact is made.
  • Record all findings
  • Review this risk assessment policy and amend as requires at least once a year.

In order to control the risk of exposure to BBVs the following recommendations should be considered:

  • Prohibit eating, drinking, smoking and the application of cosmetics in working areas where there is a risk of contamination
  • Prevent puncture wounds, cuts and abrasions
  • Avoid the use of, or exposure to, sharp instruments and materials where possible
  • Consider the use of safer devices, such as blunt ended scissors for opening packages
  • Cover all breaks in exposed skin by using waterproof dressings and suitable gloves
  • Protect the eyes and mouth by using visor/goggles/safety spectacles/mask
  • Use water-resistant protective clothing
  • Adopt basic good hygiene, such as hand washing between EVERY client
  • Use appropriate decontamination procedures and disposing of contaminated waste safely

Firefighting equipment - new type of fire extinguisher (P50)

New, service free fire extinguishers are available in powder and foam and last 10 years. Checking the P50 models is the responsibility of the organisation. Records of these checks must be kept and we will ask to see them when carrying out health and safety reviews.

Team ITS warmly welcomes this learner who started her Apprenticeship this week

Megan Deutsch - Level 2 Hair Professional Apprenticeship - Aveda, Guildford


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