Tel: 1300 307 877
24 hour serious incident and fatality reporting line
Freecall: 1800 678 198
Mason Bird Building
303 Sevenoaks St
Cannington WA 6107
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This information bulletin is intended to provide guidance to employers, employees and the
self-employed in the nail industry
Nail technicians perform manicures and pedicures, enhance natural nails and apply and maintain artificial nails. Nail technicians may work in salons,
from their own home or visit clients’ homes. They may be employees, self-employed or engaged on a contract basis.
Like many other workers, nail technicians may be exposed to hazards that place them at risk of injury or harm to their health. Some examples of hazards in the nail industry are:
Employers, the self-employed and other people in control of workplaces are required by occupational safety and health legislation to provide a workplace where workers, clients and others at the workplace are not exposed to hazards.
Employers and main contractors also have an obligation to provide training and information to employees about hazards and risks at the workplace and ways to control them. Recognised training providers or nail manufacturers and distributors can conduct training, and the training should be kept up to date as different products and techniques emerge.
Employees and contract workers have a responsibility to protect themselves and their clients by following the employer’s safe work practices. The self-employed also have a responsibility to follow safe work practices.
Hazard management involves the following steps:
Ways of managing hazards include:
Chemicals may cause allergic reactions, such as dermatitis or asthma, and can be flammable, corrosive or toxic.
Ethyl methacrylate (EMA) and methyl methacrylate (MMA) are used in nail salons to attach artificial fingernails. Methacrylates have been associated with eye and mucous membrane irritation and allergic and irritant dermatitis. The risk of harmful effects from these chemicals increases with repeated and prolonged exposure.
Nail technicians may also be exposed to other products containing chemicals, such as nail polish, glues and nail polish remover.
MSDS must be obtained and kept up to date for all hazardous chemicals used at the workplace. The employer, or person in control of a workplace has a legal responsibility to ensure workers and others have access to the MSDS for any hazardous substance used at work.
The MSDS lists the ingredients and gives health information and instructions for the safe storage, use and handling of the chemicals.MSDS are available from the suppliers of the chemicals.
Ways of working safely with chemicals include:
Good ventilation should be provided to control fumes and odours from chemicals used in the nail industry. Dust from filing nails is also a hazard.
Ventilation can be provided through:
Ensure that extracted air is removed outdoors into the open air, not just removed outside the nail salon. Salons in shopping centres should ensure that fumes and odours are not creating a health risk for other workers and members of the public at the centre.
Electric fans should not be placed on tables as they increase the amount of airborne dust from nail filing. The use of electric drills should also be kept to a minimum.
Using MMA results in very hard nails that commonly require the use of electric drills or buffers, creating excessive dust. EMA nails are softer and easily hand-finished, which reduces the amount of dust.
Good hygiene is essential to minimise the risk of spreading diseases and infections from clients to technicians or technicians to clients. Standard precautions include:
Technicians should be trained to recognise signs of infection, for example nails affected by fungi or mould. Technicians should ensure all reusable equipment is cleaned and disinfected between clients using appropriate procedures. Disposable equipment should be discarded in an appropriate manner, to ensure it does not present a risk to staff or clients.
Nail technicians should also consider being immunised or having booster shots against Hepatitis B and Tetanus. Immunisation should be discussed with a health care professional.
Workstations must be designed to ensure that technicians can perform their work in an unrestricted manner. Designers should consider appropriate positioning of furniture, fittings, equipment and clients, to ensure they do not obstruct the technician using the workstation. Other hazards such as noise and heat sources should also be considered when setting up a work area.
A well-designed workstation should provide enough space to allow equipment and tools to be positioned so that technicians can perform their tasks comfortably and without any muscular strain. The technicians should be able to sit in an upright, forward facing position that has good visibility, and be able to perform their tasks without unnecessary over-reaching, twisting and bending.
Nail technicians working in mobile vans or clients’ homes also need to follow the hazard management process, including consideration of hazards specifically associated with mobile work.
If it is not possible to eliminate the risks to health by other methods such as substituting hazardous substances with non-harmful ones or effective extraction ventilation, then personal protective equipment (PPE) should be considered.
PPE should not be the only way of controlling the risk, and is often used in conjunction with other methods. PPE should be selected in accordance with the directions in the MSDS accompanying the chemical or material being used. The associated hazards and risks of the work processes must also be considered.
Examples of PPE used in the nail industry are:
Workers who experience any adverse health effects including dermatitis, asthma or muscular strain should report this to their employer. Under the occupational safety and health laws, the employer is required to investigate the report and take appropriate action. The employer must advise the worker of
the action taken.
Certain injuries and diseases must be reported to the WorkSafe Western Australia Commissioner. A list of these injuries and diseases can be found in the Occupational Safety and Health Regulations 1996.
To report these injuries or diseases call 1800 678 198.
The following publications provide further guidance on the topics covered in this bulletin:
In addition, the following national guidance material is available from the Australian Safety and Compensation Council at www.ascc.gov.au
Further information on training is available from:
Wholesale, Retail and Personal Services Industry Training Council of WA (WRAPS)
PO Box 6236
East Perth WA 6892
Tel: (08) 9481 5766
Fax: (08) 9481 5677
Acknowledgement: This bulletin was prepared in consultation with the Hazards Advisory Committee of the Commission for Occupational Safety and Health.