OSH Answers Fact Sheets
Easy-to-read, question-and-answer fact sheets covering a wide range of workplace health and safety topics, from hazards to diseases to ergonomics to workplace promotion. MORE ABOUT >
What does a hairdresser do?
Hairdressers, aestheticians, spa workers, and barbers have similar functions when they work in a salon. They have to work with different clients from children to adults, and male to female. General tasks may include the following:
- Talk to clients about their requirements and provide advice on hair care.
- Shampoo, condition, and rinse hair.
- Cut hair using clippers, scissors, or razors.
- Provide services such as colouring, bleaching, applying treatment, permanent waving (with chemical solutions), straightening, and tinting.
- Dry hair and style it using brushes, combs, curling or straightening irons, and other equipment.
- Operate a cash register and computer.
- Perform reception duties such as answering telephone calls and making appointments.
- Sell retail products.
- Maintain client records.
- Clean the salon, work areas, and equipment.
- Supervise apprentices.
- Be aware of customer actions while on the premises (e.g., be alert to potential issues or acts of theft).
What are some health and safety issues for hairdressers?
There are several potential health and safety hazards associated with hairdresser's duties, including:
- Standing for long hours.
- Working in awkward postures or performing repetitive tasks.
- Repetitive strain injury.
- Risk of cuts, bruises or burns from scissors, hairdryers, chemicals and other equipment.
- Risk of pain or injury from lifting or carrying heavy loads.
- Work in staggered shifts.
- Exposure to workplace violence.
- Fatigue and other health problems from long hours of work.
- Slips, trips and falls from wet and untidy floors, strayed wires and obstructed floors.
- Exposure to chemicals such as aerosols in hair care, solutions, cosmetic and cleaning products.
- Skin and respiratory disorders from allergenic or irritating materials.
- Risk of contracting infectious diseases.
- Inadequate lighting (glare, low levels, etc.) can cause workers to adopt awkward postures.
What are some preventive measures for a hairdresser?
- Design the salon ergonomically: Provide workbenches, reception desks, washbasins (for tasks such as cutting, styling, shampooing, etc) at the right height, and adjustable stools and chairs for sitting. Rearrange the work area so that the task, materials (shampoos, conditioners, dyes etc), equipment (scissors, blow-dryers, etc.) and controls are within easy reach and do not require stretching or twisting.
- Wear comfortable shoes with non-skid soles.
- Take regular rest breaks and exercise.
- Rotate job functions to prevent overuse injuries.
- Rotate basin duty (to avoid prolonged contact with water).
- Purchase scissors, blow-dryers, styling rods and rollers, gloves, etc., which are easy and safe to use.
- Store frequently used, heavy objects, and material between knee and shoulder height.
- Inspect tools and equipment and make sure they are in good condition. Clean all equipment after each use.
- Treat all body substances such as blood as potentially infectious - always wear gloves.
- Make sure all sharp equipment is disposed of in a safe manner.
- Clean the floor at frequent intervals, and always as soon as there is a spill.
- Provide local exhaust ventilation where there is a risk of exposing to hazardous chemical fumes.
- Wear personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves, aprons and eye protection.
- Read manufacturer’s instructions on how to use appliances and hair products safely.
- Determine which products contain hazardous chemicals or ingredients and label them properly.
- Use a less harmful chemical or product where possible.
- Wash hands frequently to prevent infection.
- Wear appropriate personal protective equipment (e.g., gloves made from the correct material for that chemical), and wash immediately with water and soap after any skin contact with chemicals.
- Avoid contact with products that contain known sensitizers such as certain hair dyes.
- Moisturize your hands regularly.
- Maintain proper lighting levels.
- Maintain a first-aid kit and have first aid training.
What are some good general safe work practices?
- Follow safety procedures for:
- Practice safe lifting techniques.
- Practice good housekeeping procedures.
- Use, maintain and store personal protective equipment as recommended by the manufacturer.
- Learn about chemical hazards, WHMIS and MSDSs.
- Learn how to clean equipment and tools properly.
- Know first aid.
- Follow company safety rules.
- Know how to report hazards.
Although every effort is made to ensure the accuracy, currency and completeness of the information, CCOHS does not guarantee, warrant, represent or undertake that the information provided is correct, accurate or current. CCOHS is not liable for any loss, claim, or demand arising directly or indirectly from any use or reliance upon the information.