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The main hazards found in hairdressing include the use of chemicals, dermatitis, the transmission of infectious diseases (such as HIV and Hepatitis B) and the safety of electrical equipment.


Hand and skin dermatitis are important occupational health problems faced by hairdressers. It occurs when a substance damages the skin. Such as frequent shampooing which removes the skins naturally occurring protective oils, thus drying the skin. The effects are reversible by taking suitable precautions such as the wearing of gloves.

Allergic contact dermatitis is irreversible and more serious, as it occurs when a person has been exposed to a sensitising agent, possibly over a long period of time before any reaction is noticed. Sensitising agents include some chemicals used in hairdressing products and preparation’s. Once sensitised, the allergic reaction occurs extremely quickly when exposed to the substance subsequently. To prevent contact with sensitising agents it is important to use gloves and to carry out a Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) assessment.

Use of hairdressing products:

  • Obtain Product Data Sheets for each product from your supplier;
  • Follow instructions and information on the Product Data Sheets;
  • Never mix products unless it is recommended by the manufacture;
  • Ensure all containers are adequately labelled;
  • Ensure good standards of housekeeping and personal hygiene;
  • Use protective equipment where appropriate;
  • When using peroxides, tints and perming solution on previously  untreated heads always carry out a skin test, to ensure the client is not allergic to the products;
  • Don’t use solutions on clients with abrasions or irritated scalps;
  • Store products in a dry place, at or below room temperature;
  • Keep products away from naked flames;
  • Ensure proper disposal of unused mixtures and empty containers;
  • Containers to be sealed when not in use; and
  • Proprietors should give consideration to a No Smoking Policy.

Relevant Law

Health & Safety at Work etc. Act 1974

Employers have duties under the above Act to ensure the health and safety of all employees and anyone who may be affected by their work.

Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulation’s 2002 (COSHH)

These Regulation’s are commonly known as COSHH and they lay down essential requirement for controlling the exposure to hazardous substances and for protecting people who may be affected by them.

It is important to list all the hazardous chemicals/products that a salon may use, and to ensure that all staff have been trained in the safe use and handling of these chemicals/products.

The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulation’s 1992

This Act requires all employers to ensure that the salon has adequate ventilation from chemicals such as hair spray or per lotion, a good standard of cleanliness is upheld, adequate lighting available and adequate toilet facilities, which are well ventilated and lit.

Public Health Laboratory Service (C020)

Check-list for ensuring health and safety at hairdressing salons

  • Have you identified areas where hazardous activities are carried out on your premises?
  • Have you carried out risk assessments for each of the hazardous activities ?


  • Have you carried out any assessments required under COSHH 2002?
  • Do you minimise exposure to hazardous substances through good working practices, good ventilation and staff training?


  • Have you taken steps to prevent hand dermatitis, including staff training and the use of suitable gloves/skin care treatments?

Skin piercing

  • Have you registered your skin piercing activities with the local council?


  • Is the equipment maintained and used to prevent the spread of infection?

Electrical Equipment

  • Do you have a register of all electrical equipment used, and is it regularly checked?

Further Information

For further information, please contact the Health & Safety Team on

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