OSHA Straightens Out Hair Care Industry

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newsWhat do workers already know?  Is there a body of knowledge that you know to be true that you would only think about if you worked in your field?  Have you heard workers’ hunches about a product or a new medium?  So often, workers know what takes consumers and scientists a little longer to figure out.

For awhile now, workers in hair salons have complained of dizziness and watery eyes.  But only now has a federal agency taken time to fully examine this situation and begin to take measures to ensure workers’ safety and educate consumers about the issue.

Getting your hair straightened on occasion may not lead you to the hospital, but long-term exposure to toxic hair products can lead to permanent damage.  This week OSHA determined that various products used to smooth hair are a hazard and issued a warning to hair salon workers nationwide.

Some of the hair products were found to have formaldehyde in them.  Yes– this substance, known for its miracles in preserving dead bodies, is not good for you.  It has been known to cause cancer, asthma, and akin and respiratory sensitization.  It also just irritates the skin and throat.

This hazard alert was the result of investigative work done by Cal/OSHA, Oregon OSHA, and federal OSHA into hair-styling products, some of which are labeled as formaldehyde- free. Some of these products are imported from Brazil and distributed in the U.S. by companies including GIB LLC, which does business under the name “Brazilian Blowout.” Cal/OSHA is also cooperating with other state agencies to ensure that consumers and the public are protected from these health hazards.

In May 2010, Cal/OSHA began receiving complaints about two Brazilian Blowout products from hair stylists in Southern California who reported dizziness, watery eyes, and headaches while using these hair products.

Federal OSHA has issued a hazard alert to hair salon owners and workers about potential formaldehyde exposures from working with some hair smoothing and straightening products. If salon owners in California continue to use a hair product containing formaldehyde, they are required to follow Cal/OSHA’s formaldehyde standard which includes periodic monitoring of exposure, implementation of a respiratory protection program and employee training.

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Marie is a writer for Recruiter.com covering career advice, recruitment topics, and HR issues. She has an educational background in languages and literature as well as corporate experience in Human Resources.