TORONTO (Canadian OH&S News)
Toronto’s tattoo parlours and hair salons could be facing similar health and safety criteria as restaurants if city council manages to introduce a bylaw that will beef up their licensing standards for establishments where exposure to blood is common.
On Feb. 20, the Board of Health presented Toronto councillors with stricter regulations of Personal Services Settings (PSS), which includes tattoo parlours, barber shops, acupuncture facilities, hair salons, body piercing studios and anywhere where workers and their clients are at risk of blood-borne diseases and infections, such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV.
“The risk is not only to folks who get the body piercings or tattoos, it is also for the workers there,” explained Joe Mihevc, Ward 21 councillor and chair of the health board. “Infection can pass to the operator as well, so it’s also about wearing appropriate protective gear.
“The strategy is that you will have to get a license, and to get that license you will have to have clearance from public health, and to get that clearance, you will also have to be trained into how to make sure that your place is kept clean.”
Under the new rules, PSS facilities would have to obtain licences after regular inspections from the city, which would cost $319, plus $210 annually.
The system mimics Toronto’s DineSafe program that requires restaurants to display either a green (pass), yellow (conditional pass) or red (fail) card in the window to indicate the results of health inspections.
The proposed changes were met with a mixed response from the industry. While some argue that the fees are too steep, others fear that inspectors might not fully understand the true risks of their workplaces.
In an open letter from the Greater Toronto Tattoo Association, industry officials expressed their concerns with the new licensing system, including clarifying markers.
“A yellow, or conditional pass sign displayed would be a literal kiss of death for any tattoo establishment. It has been our experience over the past few years that health inspections have been conducted by individuals who, by the nature of the questions they ask, often indicate that they know little or nothing about the tattooing process,” the letter reads. “It is our position, therefore, that inspection result postings be limited to critical issues where the health and safety of the client is reasonably at risk (improper sterilization, lack of barrier control, improper skin prep, unsanitary conditions, etc).”
Toronto Health has already established a safe practice skeleton for workers who face threats from blood-borne infections, which all city establishments must abide by. That includes using sterile and single-use needles and blades, always wearing gloves during invasive procedures, safely trashing disposable material and always cleaning and disinfecting instruments and equipment between clients.
Next, the proposal will be tabled at the Municipal Licensing and Standards Committee meeting in the coming months.