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A risk assessment is the process whereby the employer identifies hazards in the workplace and analyses their potential risk in an effort to determine or control the hazard. The employer must inspect the layout of the salon and the work activities undertaken by the staff in order to evaluate the potential risk of harm, accidents, or illness.

Risk assessments in the workplace are governed primarily by a tripartite of laws. They are:

  • The Health & Safety at Work Act 1974
  • The Workplace (Health Safety & Welfare Regulations) 1992
  • The Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999

Given these laws, employers are responsible for the protection and safeguard the welfare of the staff working at the salon and members of the public that visit the salon. It is also the employer’s responsibility to notify the staff and visiting public of potential health and safety risks.

A risk assessment identifies a potential hazard, identifies who might be harmed and how, determines the protection in place, evaluates the likelihood and severity of its outcome (typically on a scale of 1-5), and stipulates the risk rating (typically on a scale of 1-25).

In the salon, for example, one potential risk is the damage and harm that could arise to both the clients and members of staff while operating Laser and IPL Equipment. By conducting a risk assessment before anyone operates the equipment, the risk can be reduced, even if it cannot be completely eliminated. Normally the owner or a member of management, or even an outside company, would do a round of the premises and conduct the risk assessment before any staff or clients are allowed to engage with the workplace.

A risk assessment, simply put, is a set of preemptive and calculated measures with the goal or reducing or elimating risks and hazards in the workplace.

One may determine whether a hazard poses a serious risk by looking at past experience with the hazard, industry codes of best practice, information from respected organisations, testing results, information about products involved, and legislated requirements.

The risks are rated after factoring in the amount of staff and clients exposed to the risk, the severity of the risk, frequency of exposure to the risk, and the probability of the risk. Methods of hazard control include elimination, substitution, protective equipment, and imposed controls.

All hazards in the workplace should be consistently monitored and reviewed and controls should be implemented based on the findings.

2/ What are the reasons for a risk assessment?

The primary reason for a risk assessment is to remove hazards, or reduce their risk, from the workplace by adding precautions in order to create a healthier and safer environment for staff, customers, and visitors.

Risk assessments are an essential facet of a good health and safety management plan in the workplace. Risk assessments help in the following areas:

  • Create hazard and risk awareness
  • Identify individuals at risk (staff, clients, public, etc.)
  • Create priorities for controlling hazards
  • Prevent injury or illness

In a legal sense, the risk assessment is important because accidents at work can be considered criminal negligence on the part of the employer as of the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974. Criminal proceedings can be brought against the employer if someone is injured in their workplace. Further to this, the onus of proof is on the employer if an accident is to occur on their premises. An accident in and of itself will be considered proof of negligence in court and it is up to the employer to provide refuting evidence. Given these legal considerations, the employer must draw up a risk assessment and make employees aware of it. The risk assessment is important because it can remove hazards and risks before they affect someone, resulting in lengthy legal proceedings for the employer.

It will help the salon manager to look at existing practices undertaken and to identify shortfalls and present potential hazards.

In relation to IPL and Laser Class 4 and Class 3b, lasers can cause damage, perhaps even permanent damage, to the eyes of both the client and member of staff. This damage can be caused by looking directly at the beam or the reflection of the beam through bounce back.

Laser beams can cause any of the damage listed below:

  • Burn the skin
  • Ignite flammable materials
  • Heat up fabrics and material that can release gases, debris, or hazardous fumes.

Indirect hazards could include forms of radiation, gas leakage, and electric shock.

There are many other associated hazards of the laser (including smoke/vapor, chemical, mechanical, and electrical), which would require a risk assessment.

By carrying out a risk assessment, and evaluating the potential hazards attached to this type of equipment, it will help the owner or manager to put safety measures and controls into the salon workplace.

3/How effective is a risk assessment

In order to analyze how effective a risk assessment has been you would need to measure the outcomes. The risk assessment, in theory, needs to be put into practice for it to be effective.

Staff must be aware of any changes immediately.

Once the risk assessment has been implemented, the new practices require measuring in order to be managed and the efficacy to be observed. The risk assessment can serve as a set of goals and practices to put in place. Once they are put in place, the employer should outline a set of Key Performance Indicators, which will inform one of whether the measures and controls in place have been met. A simple method of measurement would be that the number of incidents recorded in the accident record book declines.

The risk assessment is most effective when every person involved in the workplace is made aware of the hazards, risks, and risk assessment. Employers, employees, and clients must all be aware of their roles in protecting their own and other’s health and safety.

An effective risk assessment communicates the needs required of each individual in a clear and easy to understand manner.

The effectiveness of the risk assessment can be improved with increased commitment from all people in the workforce, particularly those in senior management. Employers should have good social and communication skills and foster a sense of teamwork in the workplace.

The following are some questions that could arise from a well thought out plan:

1. Are there any hazards that have not yet been recognised in the workplace?

2. Is it possible to get rid of hazards totally from the work place?

3. Can the damage be reduced having identified the hazards?

4. In order to protect the staff are the existing health and safety precautions adequate?

5. Without increasing costs can the standard of protection required be achieved?

6. Have alternative cost effective ways of achieving the same standard of protection been exhausted?

7. Have individual members of staff been approached in respect of their thoughts on the risk they face and do they understand why the preventive measures have been put in place?

8. Is the risk assessment process being followed in the salon and are the duties of staff to report these?

4/ Why is it important to have health, safety and security practises in place?

It is important to have these practices in place because the law requires the salon to be a safe environment for staff, clients, and visitors. If one fails to comply, one could face prosecution by an individual or company. It is important to have health and safety and security in order to protect the physical, mental, and social well being of all concerned.

In short, no workers should have to work in an environment where their health, safety, or welfare is at risk. A salon that has these practices in place will be more resistant to adverse legal action and will be viewed favourably by the public.

If the salon looks after its employees, they are more likely to look after the salon in return. Employers who feel valued and cared for will benefit their company in the following ways:

  • Staff morale is good; workers are motivated
  • Efficiency is greater; motivation leads to productivity
  • Production increases
  • Staff turnover is less (retention is improved)
  • Insurance premiums are lower
  • The employer is compliant with the law
  • Reduction in number of absences due to illness or injury
  • The company’s reputation is protected

The following are the disadvantages for not having Health and Safety and security practices in place:

  • Accidents, in relation to IPL/Laser this could mean burns or eye damage
  • Lost wages
  • Medical treatment
  • Damage to equipment and stock
  • Legal penalties
  • Loss of reputation
  • Difficulty recruiting staff
  • Loss of staff
  • Loss of profits

In summation, it makes good business sense to look after the health and safety and security procedures in the salon.

5/ What types of health and safety and security practices would be used in a salon?

There are many laws that govern the different types of health and safety and security practises used in a salon and the below list could fall under any of them:

  • Adequate toilet facilities and rest room facilities in the salon
  • Safe and healthy equipment that have been tested and appropriately labelled
  • Fire doors clearly marked and staff being made aware of fire regulations and evacuation procedures of the salon (annual risk assessment to be carried out by employees); fire extinguishers and fire blankets are to be kept unobstructed and in constant working condition
  • Obstructions must be clearly marked in order to prevent slips, trips, and falls
  • Records to be kept in the form of a log record book
  • Service Maintenance and yearly checks on fire extinguishers
  • Accident book and recording of any incidents
  • Laser fault log
  • Workers engaged with computer work are to be given periodical breaks and variations in activity, including breaks that encourage stretching, posture changes, and exercise
  • Regular reviews of chemicals and substances used in salon
  • Store all hazardous chemicals in the appropriate manner
  • Yearly electrical/PAT testing of all equipment (staff to be aware and trained in the handling procedures of electrical equipment)
  • Training and ongoing support provided to the staff for the use of equipment and the appropriate qualification before handling
  • Staff to report hazards or incidents to a member of management
  • Workers are not to work alone for long periods of time; at least one other worker must be present for long stretches of time
  • No Smoking rules adhered to
  • Gas safety checks by a registered corgi engineer
  • First Aid Box and first aid training for the staff
  • Client’s records and medical information kept up to date and kept secure and confidential; records not kept longer than necessary
  • Waste is labelled correctly and disposed of correctly via the appropriate waste collection agencies.
  • Staff trained not to carry anything in excess of 25kg and have waist high storage to avoid injury
  • Employees and clients are to be made aware that anti-social behaviour will not be tolerated; police and authorities will be called in the event of any aggressive behaviour and prosecutions will be made; a behavioural contract is to be signed
  • Provide adequate training to staff
  • The salon to be registered with the appropriate local authority for the special treatment licence
  • Sanitize, sterilize, and disinfect equipment daily
  • The salon is to have adequate insurances in place
  • Know the list of Bye Laws for their local area.
  • All employees to have the appropriate employment contracts and be on at least the national minimum wage
  • Assessment of Noise levels within the salon; no loud music; talking is to be kept to sociable volume
  • Health and safety documentation to be read by all members of staff
  • Equal Opportunities with regards to race gender and sexuality
  • Retail products sold that are reliable and dependable.
  • If the salon has a laser /IPL Laser: protection advisor to be put in place and Laser protection supervisor
  • Appropriate eye wear for the laser machines; approved wording on areas of signs and equipment; appropriate training for the laser machines
  • Yearly audit which will cover training records, local rules, and electrical safety checks

The following are the counter measures to be put into place

  1. The project area will be surveyed on a monthly basis for security and safety. This includes the formal examination of all electrical sockets and fire exits must be kept clear from obstruction and clearly marked.
  2. The staff will be made aware of the conduct with which they are expected to conduct themselves. They will be aware of their roles in their own personal health and safety and that of the salon, clients, and other staff members.
  3. Any employee not complying with the rules will be warned or removed from the environment depending on the severity of their rule breaking. Minor transgressions will pass with a warning. Serious infractions will require removal.

The following risk assessments are to be carried out: