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Hairdressing sector agrees on new measures to boost health and safety

26/04/2012 Hairdressing sector agrees on new measures to boost health and safety

Representing more than one million hairdressing workers across the EU, the trade union UNI Europa Hair & Beauty and the hairdressing employers, Coiffure EU, have reached a new agreement on clear guidance for hairdressers to work in a healthy and safe environment throughout their careers.

The new agreement, which is the result of an autonomous initiative on the part of the workers and employers, builds on existing national best practices in the Member States that are effective in reducing occupational health risks. It addresses, in particular, specific risks like the use of materials, products and tools to protect the skin and respiratory tract and the need for sufficient space and ventilation in salons where chemical substances are transferred or mixed.

This agreement is a regulation by social partners for social partners and is tailor-made for small businesses, as hairdressing salons on average have less than three workers.

The costs of implementing the agreed prevention measures are low: estimates range from less than fifty cents per customer, or just over 1% of the annual turnover of an average salon. At the same time, the benefits are clear for employers and workers alike in terms of lowering sick leave and absenteeism, reducing turnover of staff, and diminishing treatment and follow-up costs for health systems in treating occupational diseases.

The signatory parties Coiffure EU and UNI Europa Hair & Beauty will now ask the Commission for their agreement to be made legally binding in the EU. Before presenting a legislative proposal to the Council of Ministers, the Commission will carry out an assessment of the representative status of the signatory parties, their mandate and the legality of each clause of the agreement in relation to existing Union law.

Background

Hairdressing is the most high risk profession for occupational skin diseases. In some countries up to 70% of hairdressers suffer from work-related skin damage such as dermatitis at some point during their career, which is least 10 times more than the average for workers of all sectors. Almost 40% of hairdressers report musculoskeletal complaints, five times more than the rate for workers of all sectors.