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Health and safety how-to

SELF/STYLED has teamed up with Salon Services to deliver advice for every freelancer.  No matter whether you own a salon or work freelance, keep yourself updated on health & safety with this checklist below

Whether you’re a salon or barber shop owner, or a mobile hairdresser/beauty therapist, making sure you comply with the health & safety law is vital to protect yourself, and your employees and clients. Failing to comply with guidelines set out by the Health and Safety At Work Act could put your business and livelihood on the line. But it doesn’t have to be confusing: our simple guide covers what you need to know about legislation for salons and mobile businesses.

What is health & safety law and why do I need to know about it?

If you own a business, whether you’re an employer or a self-employed person, you are responsible for making sure you operate under health and safety laws. They’re there to protect you, your employees and the public from workplace risks and dangers.

The scale of health and safety laws depends on your business. If you work on your own or have a small business, it’s more straightforward eg if you have fewer than five employees you don’t have to write down your risk assessment or your health and safety policy. Read the points below to see what you need to consider for your business.


Get insurance

If you own a salon or you have a mobile business, you need public liability insurance, and if you employ anyone you must also have employers’ liability insurance. This insurance is there in case an employee or client is harmed as a result of your business and will protect you against the costs of compensation. If you’re a mobile business there may be other types of insurance you need, such as driving for business cover.

Buy employers’ liability insurance through insurers, brokers or trade associations. Your policy must be with an authorised insurer – the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has a list of these https://www.fca.org.uk/.


Carry out a risk assessment

Any health & safety policy requires you to highlight the risks associated with your hairdressing, beauty or barber business, and then work out how these risks can be controlled.

For example, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) – the UK’s independent regulator for work-related health, safety and illness – found up to 70 per cent of hairdressers suffer from work-related skin damage such as dermatitis, and that the risk can be reduced by wearing disposable non-latex gloves when working.

Aside from risks specific to your trade, you must also include general points such as floors that could be a slip-risk when wet. If you need more info on how to do a risk assessment, click on this example from the HSE.


Have a health and safety policy

If you employ of five or more people you need a written health and safety policy, which describes how you’ll manage health & safety in your business, such as training and working conditions. It doesn’t need to be complicated – find a template on the Health and Safety Executive website here.

You must also, by law, display the official Health & Safety Law Poster somewhere visible for your staff or provide them with a leaflet. Find it on the Health & Safety Executive website here. Remember to review your policy once a year and update with any changes.

Train your employees

If you have employees, you are legally required to talk to them about health and safety, and how it relates to their work. This ranges from hazards and risks to emergency procedures in the event of a fire, for example. Give them the appropriate training to identify and minimise potential risks in the workplace to them and their clients. Record training for reference.

Check your facilities

If you own a salon or barber shop with staff, you are legally required to ensure that there are basic facilities, such as providing a toilet and washing area. If you’re a mobile hairdresser or beauty therapist, keep something handy to wash with like hand gels or a container of water.

Salon health & safety law requires that drinking water is available to employees and clients, that staff have a break area so they can rest and eat meals, and are working in a ventilated, clean and comfortable environment.

Think first aid

The Health and Safety Regulations Act states that employers must make sure there is an ‘adequate and appropriate’ number of trained first aiders, as well as first aid supplies in the workplace.

This will largely depend on your risk assessment (see above). Although, the HSE suggests that companies with five to 50 employees should have at least one qualified first aider.

If you decide you don’t need a first aider, then as you must have a suitably stocked first aid kit, an appointed person who takes charge of first aid arrangements (looks after the first aid kit and calls the ambulance in an emergency) and information available for all employees that gives details of first aid arrangements.


Decide what’s right for you

While there are legal requirements, minimising the risk in your business will come down to your own risk assessments. Particularly if you don’t have staff and you work alone.

But remember, you have a duty of care to your clients – and also your employees, if you’re a salon owner. If you were found to be negligent in your approach to health and safety it would have devastating repercussions for your business. So review your plan now.


Will health & safety law change after Brexit?

The Health and Safety Executive is contributing to preparations for the UK’s exit from the European Union, including chemical regulations, and will aim to publish more details on the role of health and safety when possible. Keep up to date with webcommunities.hse.gov.uk. Please note that both Creative HEAD and Salon Services are not legal advisors, this information is for reference only.