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- Health Hazards in Nail Salons
Health Hazards in Nail Salons
Nail salons are mostly small businesses that employ or contract with trained professionals to provide clients with nail services including, but not limited to, nail filing and polishing, artificial nail application, and other hand- and foot-care treatments.
More than 375,000 nail technicians working in salons across the United States face possible health hazards every day. Workers exposed to chemicals found in glues, polishes, removers, emollients and other salon products may experience negative health effects such as asthma and other respiratory illnesses, skin disorders (e.g. allergic contact dermatitis), liver disease, reproductive loss, and cancer. Additionally, workers often endure muscle strains from awkward positions or repetitive motions; and have a high risk for infection from contact with client skin, nails, or blood.
Information on nail salon hazards and preventing illness and injury is also available for workers in OSHA's publication "Stay Healthy and Safe While Giving Manicures and Pedicures: A Guide for Nail Salon Workers" (EPUB | MOBI)
This publication is also available in:
This web page gives important information about these hazards and the steps that nail salon workers and employers can take to prevent injuries and illnesses.
Nail polishes, glues, and other products used in nail salons may contain the following chemicals, among others:
Without taking the correct safety precautions each day, these chemicals can cause breathing problems; red, irritated eyes; dry, cracked skin; and other health problems. More...
Working in certain positions or repeating the same motion puts stress on a worker's body and can cause aches and pains. These hazards are often called "ergonomic" hazards.
Aches and pains can be caused by bending over a work table for a long period of time; resting hands, wrists, forearms and/or elbows against hard surfaces or sharp edges of work tables; and using repetitive movements like filing and buffing nails. More...
Nail salon workers can be exposed to biological hazards if they come into contact with infected skin, nails, or blood from a co-worker or client.
Diseases that can result from exposure to infected blood include hepatitis and AIDS. Nail salon workers can also get fungal infections, such as athlete's foot, from clients. More...
How do I find out about employer responsibilities and workers' rights?
Workers have a right to a safe workplace. The law requires employers to provide their employees with safe and healthful workplaces. The OSHA law also prohibits employers from retaliating against employees for exercising their rights under the law (including the right to raise a health and safety concern or report an injury). For more information see www.whistleblowers.gov or Workers' rights under the OSH Act.
OSHA can help answer questions or concerns from employers and workers. To reach your regional or area OSHA office, go to the OSHA Offices by State webpage or call 1-800-321-OSHA (6742).
Small business employers may contact OSHA's free and confidential On-Site Consultation program to help determine whether there are hazards at their worksites and work with OSHA on correcting any identified hazards. Consultants in this program from state agencies or universities work with employers to identify workplace hazards, provide advice on compliance with OSHA standards, and assist in establishing injury and illness prevention programs. On-Site Consultation services are separate from enforcement activities and do not result in penalties or citations. To contact OSHA's free consultation service, go to OSHA's On-Site Consultation web page or call 1-800-321-OSHA (6742) and press number 4.
Workers may file a complaint to have OSHA inspect their workplace if they believe that their employer is not following OSHA standards or that there are serious hazards. Workers can file a complaint with OSHA by calling 1-800-321-OSHA (6742), online via eComplaint Form, or by printing the complaint form and mailing or faxing it to the local OSHA area office. Complaints that are signed by a worker are more likely to result in an inspection.
If you think your job is unsafe or if you have questions, contact OSHA at 1-800-321-OSHA (6742). Your contact will be kept confidential. We can help. For other valuable worker protection information, such as Workers' Rights, Employer Responsibilities, and other services OSHA offers, visit OSHA's Workers' page.
Department of Labor Blog Post, (2015)
1Toxic Beauty No More: Health and Safety of Vietnamese Nail Salon Workers in Southern California. California Health Nail Salon Collaborative, (May 2011).
2The website was adapted from Stay Healthy and Safe While Giving Manicures and Pedicures: A Guide for Nail Salon Workers, which was developed by the Labor Occupational Health Program (LOHP), University of California, Berkeley and the California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative.
Photos were provided by the Asian Law Caucus and Street Level Health Project