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Are nail salon workers safe from toxic exposure?

On Behalf of | May 15, 2015 | Workers' Compensation |

If you work around large volumes of toxic materials there are laws about how to handle them to limit your exposure. That’s because it’s widely understood that the chemicals are dangerous and that mishandling them can result in workplace accidents that cause serious injury, illness or death.

Workers’ compensation is intended to ensure that injured workers have the resources to pay for necessary medical care and to fill the financial gap that might be created from being unable to work. That is provided through insurance policies, which means that sometimes claims are denied and benefits due need to be fought for.

It might surprise some readers of this blog to learn that while toxic exposure rules exist for industrial settings, they might not necessarily apply to settings where exposure might be lower in volume but significant over time, such as nail salons.

Many consumers enjoy the luxury of getting their feet and hands manicured and decorated. Sometimes the process involves the application and trimming of false nails made of some chemical product. Almost always it involves the use of nail polish remover and the application of new enamel.

All of these steps involve some exposure to chemicals and fumes, many of which may be hazardous. Maybe it’s not a significant issue for the individual who has something done once every month or week. But what if you work in a salon and face exposure for hours on end for days at a time?

That nail salon workers suffer from breathing and skin illnesses on a greater scale than most people is widely acknowledged by experts. Some studies suggest that workers in the cosmetology industry generally also face increased occurrences of a number of different types of cancer. Most of the workers in the field are women and the studies show they suffer higher incidences of reproductive problems.

Unfortunately, the volume of research is light and few studies have targeted nail salon workers specifically. So health officials aren’t certain about how long-term exposure affects salon worker health. Meanwhile, industry officials say there is no proven threat and their lobbyists have been very successful in blocking monitoring by government.

Changes are reportedly being considered, but action is slow.

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