Nail bars are becoming more widespread due to the increasing popularity of acrylic nails. An investigation by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) has reported that one in five nail bars could pose a significant risk to health because of dangerous procedures, poor hygiene, inadequate ventilation and the use of certain chemicals.
If you are the owner or manager of a nail bar, you do not require a licence but you need to be aware of these hazards and adopt safe working procedures. This will ensure cosmetic procedures on nails do not lead to health and safety problems for your nail technicians and/or your clients.
Harmful chemicals and dust
There is the potential for exposure to hazardous dust and vapours from chemicals and solvents used in nail bars. Through inhalation, ingestion or skin contact, this may lead to work-related illnesses including nasal and respiratory problems, asthma, and dermatitis.
These problems can be prevented by implementing safe conditions and systems of work such as adequate ventilation and reducing the amount of chemicals in the air by keeping products in closed, marked containers and using dispenser bottles. Manufacturer’s instructions for using protective clothing such as paper masks and vinyl gloves should also be followed.
Health & Safety Executive - guidance for nail bar managers/owners (PDF File, 179kb)
Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs)
An increased prevalence of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) is likely to be caused due to working practices and posture during treatments.
There is the potential for problems associated with client’s hands, and contracting bacterial, viral and fungal infections during cosmetic nail procedures.
Technicians and clients should wash and dry their hands before and after cosmetic treatment to reduce the risk of infection. Equipment that is in direct contact with the skin or natural nail such as files, boards, etc should be both single use and disposable, or properly cleaned/sterilized between clients. General hygiene is also important, as infection can easily be passed between clients and staff.
Further information and advice on all health and safety matters in nail bars is available using the following links:
HABIA Code of Practice for Nail Salons
HABIA Guidance for Nail Technicians and Nail Businesses
HSE Research Report RR627 – Health and Safety in Nail Bars
If you are a client and have concerns about a salon you visit, we advise you to ask them about their procedures and whether they adopt safe work standards as described above.