Hairdressers health and safety

An employer must provide a health and safety policy if they have five or more employees.

However, some hairdressers 'let out' chairs. In these cases, the hairdresser who rents the chair is not an employee - they are simply working at the owner's premises. This means that the owner could have ten people working within his or her salon, yet have no employees.

In these cases, the Health and Safety at Work Act still imposes a duty on the owner. They must provide premises that falls within health and safety guidelines. Self-employed people have a legal duty not to put other people at risk by the way they work. An employer must provide a risk assessment. This must be written if the number of employees totals five or more.

Remember that: If you are an employer, are self employed or in control of work premises you have duties under Report of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurances Regulations 1995 (RIDDOR).

You must make a report if one of these happens:

  • A death or major injury - for example a chemical burn to the eye.
  • An injury that lasts over seven days - for example, a serious slip of the scissors.
  • Disease - for example,  occupational dermatitis, or
  • A dangerous occurrence.

Many people do not realise that occupational dermatitis is a notifiable disease under RIDDOR. Hairdressers are at risk of getting this as they are exposed to many abrasive chemicals. It is possible, however, to greatly reduce the risk of developing diseases such as this through correct risk assessment and a good health and safety policy.

First aid

The minimum you should provide is a suitably stocked first aid kit, and an 'appointed person'.

An appointed person is someone with specific duties relating to first aid, but not necessarily trained in first aid. Everyone at work must be made aware of the first aid arrangements, for example, by instruction and notices. Self-employed people must also make sure that there are adequate first aid procedures at work.

Minimum contents of a first aid kit

Your first aid kit must contain:

  • Guidance leaflet.
  • 20 individually wrapped, sterile adhesive dressings of various sizes.
  • 2 sterile eye pads.
  • 4 individually wrapped triangular bandages.
  • 6 safety pins.
  • 6 medium sized and 2 large individually wrapped, sterile, unmedicated wound. dressings.
  • 1 pair of disposable gloves.

Due to the various chemicals used in hairdressers, you must provide more than the required minimum in your first aid box, such as eye washing facilities. You also need more disposable gloves. This is because HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis can be transmitted through cuts from sharp objects.


You must make sure that hair clippings are swept up regularly, as these can be a major factor in the cause of slips.

It is also especially important to ensure you disinfect your scissors and razors, or you use disposable razors. If they are not clean they can cause transmission of diseases. Hairdressers must be aware of the possible transmission of HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis. To quickly and efficiently disinfect equipment use:

  • Steam
  • Antibacterial solutions, or
  • Antibacterial wipes

Equipment needs to be treated after each customer and left in an antibacterial solution overnight.


It is important that salons are well ventilated. This will prevent condensation and the accumulation of fumes. An open window can be effective or you could install an extractor system for the comfort of your clients.

Toilet facilities

There must be at least one toilet which both staff and customers can use. Men and women can share if there is a secure lock on the door.

Control of Substances Hazarous to Health (COSHH)

This must be included in the risk assessment. There should not be a problem if:

  • You follow the manufacturer's instructions when using equipment.
  • You follow the guidance provided in booklets such as A Guide to Health and Safety in the Salon, and
  • The salon is well ventilated.

You must provide protective clothing for both staff and customers. This should include:

  • Gloves
  • Overalls
  • Face screens
  • Goggles

This will prevent contact with the chemicals. Chemicals should also be correctly stored in staff only areas, or in a locked cupboard following the instructions on their containers. You must clear up any spillages immediately.