Safety & The Spa: Part II: OSHA Regulations and Employee Safety

This is the second installment of a three-part series entitled Safety & The Spa. Part one tackled the issue of public health. Part III will discuss sanitation issues regarding bodied so water and bathing, including pools, hot tubs, and hydrotherapy equipment. This segment reviews worker safety and health.

In the skin care and spa industry, following strict procedures and sterilization techniques is critically important not only for clients but for the protection of professionals. With the increasing popularity of medical esthetic procedures such as microdermabrasion, skin care specialists increasingly come into possible contact body fluids and blood. Strict preventative procedures and sterilization to prevent the spread of infectious agents is
now law and not just a matter of good professional conduct.

Spa employees, especially those entering into the 'paramedical' spa arena, are protected by the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (the Act), 29 U.S.C. 655, which minimizes occupational exposure to Hepatitis B Virus (HBV), Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and other bloodborne pathogens.
OSHA has made a determination that employees face a significant health risk as the result of occupational exposure to blood and other potentially infectious materials because they may contain bloodborne pathogens. The Agency further concludes that this exposure can be minimized or eliminated using a combination of engineering and work practice controls, personal protective clothing and equipment, training, medical surveillance, Hepatitis B vaccination, signs and labels, and other provisions.
The environment in the spa setting is obviously different than in a medical setting. The material published in connection with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standard, 'Occupational Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens' (29 CFR 1910.1030) does not include any information on the risks of transmission of bloodborne diseases in the cosmetology profession. Under the standard, it is the responsibility of the employer to evaluate the potential for contact with blood or other potentially infectious material among his or her employees. If the employer determines that such a potential exists, then he or she must provide all the protections of the standard to the exposed employees, including training, vaccination, and personal protective equipment.
According to Susanne Warfield, editor of PCI Journal, professionals should always perform services with a 'Universal Precaution' standard which means all clients should be treated as if known to be infectious for HIV, HBV and other bloodborne pathogens. 'One-Time Use' supplies include but are not limited to disposable garments
such as women's panties, men's briefs, hand towels, cloths, linens, and facial

For more information on regulation in your area, contact the Center for Disease control. Your local OSHA office provides information on updated guidelines. OSHA is a nationally governed act under the Department of Labor and these laws supersede any state cosmetology board guidelines.