Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Hair Salon, Tattoo Customers Susceptible to Blood-Borne Infections Like Hepatitis C, HIV
If buzzers, clippers and needles aren’t properly disinfected or discarded, consumers’ health could be at risk. Learn how to identify establishments that are compliant with public health code.
ANCHORAGE—It’s a question most don't think about when walking into the barbershop or salon: Is this establishment in compliance with state regulations?
To cut or not to cut boils down to the state’s packet of rules that dictate whether all operators have to have a license in order to serve the public, and about public safety.
In the more than 100 salons and barbershops that the state focuses on throughout Alaska, it’s all about complying with the law.
“What we are doing is making sure that people that are out there, providing the service, have the qualifications,” said Quinten Warren, the chief investigator for the Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development.
Qualifications include education, testing and licenses that show whether hairdressers and barbers are allowed to be in business.
Ashley Houston said she takes those rules seriously, even though others around town are not.
“I took several tests on the book and I guess the main test,” said Houston, who is a hairdresser for Halo Salon. “It’s the best procedure to differentiate if people know what they are doing or not.”
There are a few shops that may employ some people that may not be licensed, said Warren, adding that usually means the shops and salons are not following safety procedures, which could affect your health.
“If water is not properly cleaned and not changed out, you’ve seen the issues where people may get a staph infection,” Warren said.
State investigators say they are actively looking into complaints, despite concerns from some business owners to be lenient.
“It’s important that when you do go to these people that you are going to someone that is licensed because if they are licensed we can hold them accountable for their license,” said Warren.
The state says most shops are in compliance, but customers can be proactive by making sure whomever touches your hair has a license.
Checking credentials is as simple as looking for the license on the wall.
“If they are not posted you should ask, and if they are not posted you should report that to us,” said Warren.
The state commerce department has 16 investigators, but only one handles complaints and spot checks of barbers and hairdressers.
Investigators issue cease-and-desist orders if a violation is found.
The same rules apply for nail technicians and tattoo artists—licenses for whom are especially important, given the possibility of blood-borne infections like hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV.