Industry not up to standard in New Zealand Industry not up to standard in New Zealand CREDIT: Jaako
Hair dressing in the hot seat Hair dressing in the hot seat CREDIT: Flicker

Hairdressing industry not cutting it for workplace health and safety

Monday 10 September 2007, 8:53PM
By Department of Labour

A new report into health and safety management practices in the hairdressing industry shows an awareness of health risks but says more needs to be done to protect workers from injury, says the Department of Labour.

The Department has released an evaluation of the present state of health and safety management practices used to reduce injury and disease in the hairdressing industry. The report is based on information gathered from people working in the industry, and included visits to hairdressing salons and training schools to talk with and observe hairdressers, apprentices and trainees performing hairdressing tasks. Dermatologists, occupational physicians, physiotherapists and ergonomists were also consulted.

The Department of Labour’s Chief Adviser on Occupational Health Dr Geraint Emrys says hairdressing poses significant risks of musculoskeletal disorders and dermatitis for hairdressers. There are around 2600 hairdressing salons in New Zealand and according to the last Census nearly 10,000 hairdressers. Over 90 percent of hairdressers are women.

“Musculoskeletal discomfort, pain or injury among hairdressers is quite common and is leading to decreased job performance, lower productivity, increased time off work, and even early retirement from the hairdressing profession,” he says.

“While the causes of harm to workers in the industry are largely known, the industry seems less aware of the ways they can prevent workers from being injured. Ways to prevent harm exist and hairdressers can protect themselves. Hairdressers, tutors and salons need the courage to take on change in work techniques and work practices.”

Dr Emrys says the challenge for the hairdressing industry is to develop and implement a strategic plan to achieve a major improvement in caring for those working in the industry. The Department of Labour has been working with the New Zealand Association of Registered Hairdressers (NZARH) and is pleased with their positive response to the evaluation report.

“The hairdressing industry has a phenomenal reputation for caring for its clients. We’re working with the industry to develop a similar ethos towards their members – those working every day in hairdressing salons,” says Dr Emrys.


The report is available at: