Employees working in barber shops, beauty salons, blow-out bars, and other hair salons may be exposed to a variety of hazards. The chemicals, products, razors, dryers, and hot irons used at these businesses can lead to accidental injuries. Additionally, if your business offers services beyond just hair—such as manicures or pedicures—the risks may increase with those services.
For every dollar spent on a workers’ comp claim, $5 is spent on indirect costs, like lost productivity, hiring and retraining staff, and replacing or repairing damaged equipment. The most common injuries experienced by barber shop and beauty salon employees are:
- Slips, trips, and falls
- Puncture wounds and cuts
- Electrical and burn injuries
- Exposure to chemicals
Of course, by taking steps to prevent injuries on the job, you can better safeguard your employees and your business.
Workplace safety tips for barber shop and hair salon owners
By implementing proper safety techniques, you may be able to reduce the number of workers’ comp claims—and reduce your overall costs. Be sure that all employees, even part-time help and trainees, are well trained in safety procedures.
Here are some tips to help keep your workers safe at your barber shop, hair salon, beauty salon, or blow-out bar:
- Verify the licensing and certifications of each staff member
- Conduct safety training routinely, including information about preventing slips, trips, and falls
- Conduct a monthly inspection of the shop and daily inspections of high-volume areas
- Provide a place for employees to keep their belongings secure and out of the way
- Don’t block fire extinguishers or sprinklers
- Keep up-to-date fire extinguishers in your shop and make sure employees are trained on how to use them
- Keep emergency exits clear
- Ensure the shop is adequately ventilated and well lit
- Regularly inspect chair conditions, anchor bolts, and safety straps
- Provide smocks and towels to protect employees’ clothing and skin
- Routinely inspect the grounding and wiring of electrical appliances
- Only use guarded dryers with automatic cut-off switches to prevent overheating
- Provide a written hazard communication program to employees that includes a list of all the hazardous materials at the shop and an explanation of how you will comply with OSHA’s standards for each
- Provide a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for every product that employees will use
- Store cleaning supplies and other chemicals in their original containers
- Provide employees with personal protection equipment, including gloves and masks
- Consider installing a system to cycle in fresh outdoor air and circulate it throughout the store to prevent the growth of mold, fungus, or bacteria
- Provide appropriate sterilization equipment and supplies
- Ensure employees are trained in basic first aid, from cleaning and bandaging a superficial wound, to administering the Heimlich maneuver to save a choking customer
- Always keep first aid supplies on hand in case of emergency
- Schedule at least two people per shift, especially at night
- Consider installing a security alarm system, surveillance cameras, and/or hiring a security guard to monitor your shop
- Ensure safe, non-skid flooring is used throughout the shop
- Ensure the floor is swept and mopped often
- Install adequate outdoor lighting
- Repair broken asphalt and sidewalks
- Provide medical exams when required by OSHA regulations and provide workers access to medical and exposure records
- Make sure all employee injury claims are investigated to help uncover any fraudulent claims
- Keep records of workplace injuries and illnesses
- Perhaps most importantly, require that all employee injuries—no matter how small—are reported immediately
A note about formaldehyde
Formaldehyde is a chemical used in building materials and other household products. The strong-smelling substance is colorless and flammable. Studies show that formaldehyde can cause chest pain, shortness of breath, coughing, and nose and throat irritation. It also has been linked to certain types of cancer and may increase the risk of asthma and allergies in kids.
OSHA has found that hair smoothing products may contain formaldehyde. Unfortunately, some of these products may be mislabeled. If your shop uses hair-smoothing products that contain or may release formaldehyde, you must comply with OSHA’s formaldehyde and hazard communication standards.
Safety tips for barber shop and beauty salon workers
Train and remind your employees to:
- Take a few moments during their shifts to stretch or take breaks—especially if they spend a lot of time bending, reaching, or repeating the same motions
- When turning, they should move their feet instead of twisting at the waist
- Regularly sweep up hair clippings and mop up any product spills immediately
- Use the wet floor signs after mopping or cleaning up a spill
- Store soiled towels, hair clippings, and trash in closed metal containers
- Follow the use instructions provided by the manufacturer of each product and styling implement
- Organize supplies with clear labels to reduce the chance of using the wrong product
- Know the chemicals and ingredients in the products that are used and understand how these chemicals may react with one another—particularly if they spill and get mixed together
- When possible, avoid products that contain formaldehyde
- Use gloves when working with chemicals that may irritate the skin
- Wipe down barber chairs each day
- Thoroughly sterilize all razors, combs, clippers, scissors, tweezers, and all other tools that touch the head, neck, or face of a customer before each use
- Never stand on chairs, desks, boxes, or other objects to reach high areas
- Never use a ladder that’s broken or damaged
How to prepare for unexpected accidents
While you can’t plan for every type of emergency, every workplace should at least have a plan for dealing with a variety of scenarios—including medical emergencies, fires, floods, chemical spills, and robberies. All workers should be trained on what’s in the safety plan and what they should do specifically in the case of an emergency.
How to incentivize safety in your barber shop or salon
Accidents can happen anywhere—even in barber shops and salons. Remind employees why safety training is important and provide continual reminders and retraining.
To help encourage your employees to make safety a priority at work, consider offering prizes or awards for those who follow the safety program or hit time milestones while remaining injury-free. Prizes like scratch-off lottery tickets, coffee gift cards, or 30 minutes of extra paid-time-off can help motivate your team.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Recommended Practices for Safety and Health Programs provides additional guidance for implementing a health and safety program.
Thanks for reading! Please note that this content is intended for educational purposes only. As best practices change regularly, you should refer to your trusted advisor for specific counsel. If you’re a small business owner, learn more about workplace safety or check your workers’ comp rate in 3 minutes.