A manicure or pedicure is a popular way to relax and enjoy some much-needed pampering. The nail salon industry continues to grow despite economic setbacks in some other areas of luxury service. According to estimates compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 350,000 American workers are employed in nail salons. A Chicago worker compensation attorney is aware that many of these employees are exposed to hazardous chemicals on the job.

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Nail salon workers infographic

Dangerous materials in nail salons

Nail salon employees face daily exposure to a wide range of materials with possible effects on the musculoskeletal, respiratory and neurological systems. These potential pathogens include the following:

  • Acrylates
  • Solvents
  • Acrylic dust and other particulate matter
  • Nail polishes and lacquers
  • Biocides and fungicides

A typical nail salon employee may come into contact with all of these substances in a single day’s work.

Salon work is associated with a higher risk of illness

Salon workers spend many hours a day in close proximity to these hazardous chemicals. They generally work on specialized tables that place the client’s hands or feet directly in the employee’s breathing zone. Salons are often poorly ventilated. According to the CDC, the majority of people employed in nail salons face a dangerous level of occupational exposure to di-n-butyl phthalate, a possible carcinogen found in nail products. These exposure levels may lead to higher long-term risks of occupational illness.

Extra hazards for women

CDC statistics show that 96 percent of the current salon workforce is made up of women. Female workers have a higher average level of body fat than men, leading to increased buildup of toxic substances in body tissues. A Chicago worker compensation attorney recognizes that many female salon professionals also continue to work during pregnancy and lactation, putting their children at risk of hazardous chemical exposure.

Keeping salon employees safer

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has outlined basic safety measures to help keep salon employees safer on the job. These measures include ergonomic work tables with increased airflow, secure containers and dispensers for volatile liquids, better ventilation in salons, the consistent use of long sleeves and the availability of better gloves. NIOSH also offers patterns for affordable improvements in salon equipment.

Rewards and dangers of salon employment

Salon work can be rewarding and profitable. A Chicago worker compensation attorney knows that it can also be a health hazard if materials are not handled correctly. Nail technicians who have suffered possible chemical exposure on the job may find it useful to meet with a personal injury lawyer.