Risk Prevention: What Are the Risks that Hairdressers Face?
Many professional hairdressers are not aware of the risks involved in their day-to-day work. Beyond cuts and burns, the practice of hairdressing can cause health problems that might accompany them throughout life.
The prevention of risks in the hairdressing business mainly focuses on the importance of safety in the salon to prevent falls, slips, cuts, burns and problems with electrical appliances. There are risks that can be avoided with simple actions, such as putting reflective anti-slip strips on the stairs, or simply with a bit of common sense, such as keeping the floor clear of cables and water to avoid tripping or slipping. All these risks are, however, potentially small work accidents that usually cause short-term damage, if they occur, and any resulting injuries are covered by hairdresser compensation schemes, or insurance, usually.
There is another type of risk for hairdressers that can be life-threatening, and even force them to abandon their work, occupational diseases that are caused due to continued exposure to certain products, becoming chronic. The prevention against these diseases is usually minimal if not null, since there is much ignorance about them and their causes.
Many products commonly used in hairdressing contain substances that, although in small quantities usually have no impact, in large quantities can be toxic to health. This is a problem for hairdressing professionals, who spend many years of their lives, a minimum of eight hours a day, in contact with them, so they can end up affecting their body. Some of the most common are:
Dyes: in addition to the well-known PPDs, which are very controlled by official entities, they also include aniline and ammonia. Aniline poisoning affects the nervous system and the genitourinary system, being a very common cause of bladder cancer. In fact, the hairdressing sector has the highest risk of suffering from it. For its part, ammonia is a highly irritating and allergenic substance.
Bleaching agents: to dissolve the natural colour of the hair in preparation to apply another, they are formulated with hydrogen peroxide and persulfate salts (especially ammonium and sodium) to accelerate the reaction, which generates an irritant effect both on the skin and respiratory tract.
Permanent waving: the liquid used to shape the hair usually contains glycerine thioglycolate, which has been shown to produce hives and other contact allergies.
Lacquers: are a combination of resins, perfumes, propellants and polyvinylpyrrolidone, whose inhalation continuously causes problems in the respiratory tract such as chronic asthma.
All these dangerous substances accumulate in the body after continuous and exhaustive use, which ends up generating disorders in the health of the hairdresser.
Contact dermatitis in hairdressing
Whether allergic or irritant, dermatitis is one of the most widespread occupational diseases in the hairdressing sector, manifesting itself at different levels in up to 20% of professionals.
The appearance of this disease generates continuous itching, rashes and even blisters when the skin comes into contact with the irritant, so it usually occurs on the hands. The only prevention is to avoid contact, usually using plastic gloves that act as a barrier between the skin and the product, in addition to good hydration that maintains the natural defenses of the skin in perfect condition.
Asthma and rhinitis are the most common manifestations of respiratory problems, caused by the continuous inhalation of toxic vapours. Mucosal hypersensitivity and bronchial hyperresponsiveness cause breathing difficulties and airflow obstructions. Irritation can be immediate and transient or lead to a chronic disorder.
To avoid the appearance of these disorders as much as possible, the ideal thing is to have an appropriate ventilation system that prevents the professional from inhaling the vapours of the product.
Other diseases that affect hairdressers
In addition to allergies and irritative disorders caused by chemical products, other chronic problems may arise during the exercise of the hairdressing profession. For example, one of the most widespread is the Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, which appears by the repetitive movement of the hand and wrist by exerting pressure on an instrument such as scissors. Also, muscular overloads and circulatory problems such as varicose veins can appear as a result of forcing the standing posture for many hours.
According to experts who have dealt with such work injury claims in Gloucester, the development of chronic conditions associated with the above diseases in the hairdressing sector can be debilitating for the professional hairdresser and may even result in early retirement from the profession. As much as being a hairdresser may bring you happiness and is your passion, just be aware of the long term effects and possible work-related injuries.