While many people enjoy a good pedicure or a manicure at their favorite salon, not many of us are aware that those who provide these relaxing services are often overworked, underpaid and may be exposed to serious health hazards. A recent investigation by the New York Times has revealed some startling facts about working conditions in salons. In this post, our St. Louis work injury lawyer will talk about the risks faced by salon workers.
Chemical exposure in the workplace
Salon workers can get exposed to harmful chemicals in various ways including:
- Breathing: Workers can inadvertently inhale dust, vapors and mist. The chemicals can then get absorbed into the lining of the lungs, and from there, they can enter the bloodstream.
- Ingestion: No one would ever eat or drink a beauty product, but a worker could swallow some of these chemicals if they do not keep their food and drinks covered.
- Skin contact: If a beauty product comes in contact with the skin, it can get absorbed into the body.
Hazardous chemicals salon workers come in contact with
- Acetonitrile: This chemical is a part of the glue remover and any exposure can cause breathing problems, weakness, nausea and vomiting.
- Butyl Acetate: This is found in nail polish and can cause irritation in the mouth, nose and throat and headaches.
- Methyl Methacrylate: MMA is found in various beauty products and can cause loss of smell, difficulty concentrating and asthma
- Ethyl Methacrylate: It is also found in nail polish and can cause irritation in throat, mouth and nose.
- Toluene: It is used in nail polish and glue and can case irritation in throat and lungs, headaches, kidney damage, liver damage and other complications.
OSHA has created a set of rules for employers to ensure the safety of salon workers. OSHA recommendations include:
Respiratory system protection: NIOSH has created filtering respirators that help protect the worker from inhaling vapors, dust, and even chemical gases.
Avoid contact with eyes and skin: Protective glasses and gloves can help prevent contact with harmful chemicals. So, they should be made available to the workers.
Proper ventilation: It is advisable to leave the windows open the windows open to let fresh air to flow through the salon. Proper ventilation units should be installed.
The New York Times investigation has revealed that the salon workers they interviewed were mainly immigrants, and many were worked for months without pay. Even when they were paid, the wages were meager. The workers were often reluctant to report their employer, because they worked without a license and were afraid of punishment. The workers reported that if an OSHA representative visited the salon, the unlicensed workers were made to escape through the back door.
If you have been injured while working in a salon, you might be entitled to workers compensation benefits. Speak to a competent St. Louis workers compensation lawyer to understand your rights. Call (314) 361-4300 today.