Health Hazards in Nail Salons

Muscle and Joint Problems from Awkward Postures and Repetitive Motions

Leaning over a work table for a long time; repetitive movements like filing and buffing nails; and resting hands, wrists, and forearms and/or elbows against hard surfaces or sharp edges of work tables are common causes of injury to workers' muscles, bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, and nerves. These common causes are often called ergonomic hazards and can lead to aches and pains that workers may feel while at work or at home. Ergonomics is the study of the work environment to make work more comfortable and efficient. Good ergonomic practices can reduce stress to the body and avoid hazards that may cause aches and pains.

Steps to Reduce Ergonomic Hazards
  • Use an adjustable chair that gives proper back support and can be raised and lowered. Position the body so that feet stay flat on the floor and use a footrest if needed.
  • Make sure that there is enough space between the back of the knees and the front edge of the seat to help ensure proper blood flow to the legs.
  • Adjust the lighting to see without bending over a work table.
  • Raise and position the client's hand or foot to avoid bending over.
  • Avoid resting hands, wrists, forearms, and elbows against hard and/or sharp edges of work tables.
  • Put a towel or foam pad on the work table edge for a softer surface for the arms.
  • Put soft pads on tool handles to make them larger and easier to hold.
  • Take frequent breaks if possible. Changing positions and doing a different task is also helpful.
  • Pace the work. When working too fast, the body can become tense, which could cause muscle pain.
  • Do gentle stretching exercises in between sessions with clients to relax and give muscles and joints a chance to move.

Resources on How to Prevent Ergonomic Hazards and Protect Your Health

  • Ergonomic Basics for Nail Salon Professionals. International Nail Technician's Association and Nail Manufacturers Council of the Professional Beauty Association. Gives basic tips on how to prevent aches and pains while working in nail salons.
  • Ergonomics and Musculoskeletal Disorders. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Workplace Safety and Health Topic. Gives information about ergonomic hazards at work and how to reduce them.
  • Ergonomics Safety and Health Topics Page. OSHA. Gives information about ergonomic hazards at work and how to reduce them.
  • Ergonomic Basics For Nail Professionals. Provides information on posture, positioning, lifting, stretching and other actions that employers and workers can take to reduce ergonomic hazards during nail procedures.

General Information on Nail Salon Safety and Health

Stay Healthy and Safe While Giving Manicures and Pedicures: A Guide for Nail Salon Workers

Help for Nail Salon Owners and Employers

  • Ergonomic eTools. OSHA. Provides interactive, web-based information to address ergonomic hazards.
  • Small Business. OSHA. Provides links to many OSHA resources and information specifically for smaller employers, including safety and health tools and publications, easy-to-follow guides for specific OSHA standards, and descriptions of benefits that small businesses receive from OSHA.