How You Can Protect Yourself When Handling Chemicals
The ingredients in many of the products used in salons are hazardous and protecting yourself is the key to safety. If possible, choose products that contain safer chemicals.
Following safe work practices in addition to proper ventilation and personal protective equipment can help you reduce exposure. Click here and refer to page 7 of the OSHA Guide for Nail Salon Workers for a complete listing of safe work practices.
Ventilation is one of the most important ways to improve and/or maintain the quality of air in the workplace. USDOL-OSHA broadly defines ventilation as a method of controlling the environment with air flow. It generally involves the use of supply and exhaust ventilation to maintain acceptable levels of airborne contaminants by bringing cleaner air in to dilute contaminants. The rate at which the indoor air is replaced by outdoor air (ventilation rate) needs to be enough to keep pollutant levels from accumulating indoors. A lack of ventilation can lead to poor indoor air quality and contribute to adverse health effects ranging from headache and fatigue to asthma symptoms and respiratory infections. Enough ventilation can also help to prevent fires, and control temperature, humidity, and odors. To learn more about indoor air quality, visit the EPA website. For more information on USDOL-OSHA standards, click here.
General ventilation should be provided with an adequate supply of fresh outside air to provide dilution of the indoor air. To avoid spreading chemicals vapors, ventilation systems should be installed then maintained professionally. They should not be shared with other businesses and slightly more air should be exhausted than supplied. Measuring the concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the salon during peak hours of business could indicate how well outside air is being supplied.
Local exhaust ventilation should be present in each chemical mixing area. It is most effective at protecting workers because it captures and removes contaminants at the source before they are inhaled. The following specifications should be met for local exhaust ventilation:
- Fans should be strong enough to be efficient to move the contaminated air through the system;
- Hoods should be placed as close as possible to the process generating the chemical;
- Vent exhaust air to the outside of the building; and,
- Change filters as needed, i.e., as recommended by manufacturer.
For further information about proper ventilation techniques specifically for nail salon workers, click here and review page 6 of OSHA’s Guide for Nail Salon Workers. Or, click here for the publication, “Controlling Chemical Hazards during the Application of Artificial Fingernails” from The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH, U.S. CDC).
Recommended eye protection and gloves according to primary chemical in use.
Chemical/Product State At Room Temperature Eye Protection Gloves acetone liquid indirect-vent impact and splash resistant goggles given acetone degrades plastics, recommended materials are Butyl, Silver Shield/4H and Barrier ammonia from liquid to fumes, gas, vapors non-vented, impact resistant goggles, do not wear contacts when working with this substance Nitrile, Neoprene, Butyl, Butyl/Neoprene or Viton/Neoprene dibutyl phthalate liquid indirect vent, impact and splash resistant goggles Butyl, Nitrile, Silver Shield/4H, Viton ethanol liquid indirect vent, impact and splash resistant goggles Viton/Butyl, Silver Shield/4H, Viton and Barrier ethyl acetate liquid indirect-vent impact and splash resistant goggles, do not wear contacts when working with this substance solvent resistant gloves (4H, Butyl) formaldehyde liquid to gas non-vented impact resistant goggles, do not wear contacts when working with this substance Butyle, Nitrile, Neoprene and Viton hydrogen peroxide liquid indirect vent, impact and splash resistant goggles, do not wear contacts when working with this substance Nitrile, Neoprene, Natural Rubber, Silver Shield/4H and Viton toluene liquid indirect-vent impact and splash resistant goggles, do not wear contacts when working with this substance
Viton, 4H/Silver Shield, Polyvinyl Alcohol
from The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH, U.S. CDC).