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Health Risks for Beauty Salon Workers

When we think of workers’ compensation, we are often thinking in terms of an on- the-job injury and benefits to compensate worker or his or her family after he or she has been seriously hurt or even killed. However, workers’ compensation benefits are also available for employees who suffer from a work-related illness. Mesothelioma is one obvious workplace illness that comes to mind, but injury from chemical exposure is much more common than most people might think.

safetymaskWhile workplace illness due to chemical exposure can occur in manufacturing plants, and, more obviously, places like research laboratories and chemical plants, there are other industries where workers are particularly at risk for chemical exposure-related illness. According to a recent news article from Safety + Health, beauty salon workers are at high risk for on-the-job illness.

As our Boston on-the-job illness lawyers can explain, among beauty salon workers, those who work at nail salons are particularly at risk. It is not uncommon for nail salon workers to suffer from irritated skin, throat, and eyes, asthma, and even much more serious illnesses. We have seen a definite increase in the number of miscarriages for women working as nail technicians and also increased rates of liver and kidney diseases and even cancer. There were even reports of the caustic chemical actually permanently removing a worker’s fingerprints. While it might look cool in movies like Mission Impossible, it is definitely something you do not want to happen in real life from occupational exposure to chemicals.

There is very little question that chemicals used to remove nail polish and clear coats can be hazardous at occupational levels of exposure. This does not mean the clients are at high risk, because the exposure for the average customer is very low, and, once the polishes dry, there are in no longer risks of inhaling them or having them be absorbed through the skin.

It is important to understand that we are not talking about rare occurrences.   Once study conducted at nail salons in Boston determined that 44 percent of manicurists suffered from headaches that got somewhat better after leaving work for the day. Nearly 30 percent of workers in Boston nail salons suffered from dizziness, light-headiness, and an inability to concentrate at work.

One of the reasons these chemicals are determined to be safe for consumers is because all safety testing is done to determine if it is safe to wear. There is not any safety testing being done by manufacturers to determine if it is occupationally safe for workers in nail salons.

While nail salon workers are one group of workers on which this article focused, hair salon workers also have experienced serious illness related to occupational exposure. Hair dyes, which often require mixing by hairstylists, contain chemicals that are also harmful at occupational exposure levels. Again, these chemicals are generally not harmful to clients who have their hair died. However, there are many who believe that pregnant women should be careful about getting their hair dyed, because certain chemicals contain metal.

If you are injured on the job in Massachusetts, call the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your workers’ compensation claim: 1-888-367-2900.

Additional Resources:Dangerous beauty: Salon worker health is in the spotlight, Safety + Health, September 26, 2015, by Sarah Trotto
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