NIOSH Evaluates Chemical Exposures, Ergonomics at Four Nail Salons
A NIOSH investigation of four nail salons identified several controls to help reduce employee contact with chemicals and improve ergonomics and ventilation at the salons. Technicians provided a range of nail services, including applying, removing, filling, and polishing acrylic nails and providing standard polish, gel, and shellac polish manicures and pedicures. The agency’s visits were initiated through a request from a state health department that described concerns about chemical exposures and musculoskeletal disorders among nail salon employees. NIOSH found that work practices and conditions at the salons contributed to chemical exposures from nail polish remover, nail polish, acrylic polymers, and powders. According to the agency, some chemicals in nail salon products can cause health problems such as skin rash or dermatitis; eye, nose, and throat irritation; asthma; neurological effects; reproductive problems; and cancer. NIOSH investigators also observed employees working in positions that pose risks for developing musculoskeletal disorders. For example, technicians repeatedly bent their necks and shoulders in ways that might cause injury or pain, and seated employees repeatedly lifted and held clients’ feet to shoulder level during pedicures—a practice that can put stress on the upper back and shoulders. In addition, none of the four salons’ ventilation systems met ventilation guidelines.  “None of the employees reported respiratory or skin symptoms; however, work practices and workplace conditions likely contributed to chemical exposures through the skin and lungs,” NIOSH’s report states. “Improving workplace equipment, ventilation, and chemical storage practices; providing training on ergonomic postures, chemical hazards, and health risks; and enhancing work practices and [personal protective equipment] use will help promote workplace health and safety of employees in the nail salons.” The full NIOSH report is available as a PDF.