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US salons will employ more than 100,000 workers by 2022

Many nail salon workers are women of reproductive age who may be exposed to toxic chemicals.

Many nail salon workers are women of reproductive age who may be exposed to toxic chemicals.

When New York City Public Advocate Letitia James, JD, announced that her office was releasing a report on nail salons last year, it was anything but a frivolous task.

The policy report, “How Safe is Your Nail Salon?,” released in September, took a look at health and safety practices for both consumers and workers in New York City’s nail salons.

And with more than 2,000 businesses licensed to do manicures and pedicures in the city alone, the health of a large swath of the public is affected. In New York, the salons are regulated by the state — which has just 27 inspectors to help maintain their safety, James told The Nation’s Health.

The health and wellness of nail salon employees is no small matter, as the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated there were 86,900 manicurists and pedicurists in the U.S. in 2012. That number is expected to rise to 100,400 by 2022.

But that estimate is probably far too low, according to the California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative, which estimates there are 97,100 manicurists in California alone right now.

Up to 80 percent of those workers are Vietnamese immigrants, and more than 50 percent are women of reproductive age.

Duyen Tran, MPH, an APHA member and the interim outreach coordinator for the collaborative, says there are several reasons that nail salon work appeals to young women in the Vietnamese community.

Some of it is the flexibility working in a nail salon can afford: Employees can tailor their schedules around their families’ needs. Another reason is the ease with which a worker can enter into the industry and start making money. Training courses, which are 12 to 18 months long, and exams are offered in Vietnamese.

“To do nail salon work you don’t need high English proficiency,” Tran told The Nation’s Health. “It doesn’t require intensive English training, so it’s really an opportunity for this recent immigrant population to enter the workforce and use it to support their families and communities in a very short time.”

But joining the workforce means exposure to known dangerous products — and potentially unknown dangers, as well.

Three chemicals pose most risks to workers

The biggest risks to nail salon workers are “the toxic trio:” Toluene, formaldehyde and dibutyl phthalate are the most common and dangerous ingredients in nail products, including polish and polish remover, that have been linked to serious health risks.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, toluene exposure has been linked to tiredness, confusion, weakness, drunken-type actions, memory loss, nausea, loss of appetite and hearing and color vision loss. High levels of exposure have been linked to kidney damage.

Formaldehyde exposure can lead to irritation of the eyes, nose and throat, causing tearing, and skin irritation, according to CDC, and is a known carcinogen. CDC’s Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry notes that dibutyl phthalate is linked to organ development issues in fetuses when exposed during gestation.

The toxic trio can be transmitted as airborne particles, through product contact with skin or eyes and via unintentional transfer of the materials to uncovered food, drink or cigarettes, according to research from the California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has reported that chemical levels can exceed 826 parts per million during the application of acrylics in nail salons, but proper ventilation can drop that to 12.4 parts per million.

Despite these risks, in Nails Magazine’s 2014-15 report, “Nails Big Book: Everything You Need to Know About the Nail Industry,” 34 percent of nail salon workers reported that they never wear protective gloves while working. Sixty-one percent said they never wear a mask while working. And more than half reported having work-related health concerns. Twenty-three percent said they were uninsured.

Salons can promote safety for workers

Though self-reported low numbers of nail salon workers take safety precautions, state and federal government regulations require certain steps to be taken to ensure worker safety. OSHA distributes “Stay Healthy and Safe While Giving Manicures and Pedicures: A Guide for Nail Salon Workers,” which outlines workers’ rights to health and safety for both employees and salon owners.

The guide has been translated to Vietnamese, Spanish and Korean. And OSHA has been working to reach out to communities to make sure workers’ rights are well-known, said Mandy Edens, MSPH, director of OSHA’s directorate for technical support and emergency management.

Source: The Nation’s Health; The article has been edited for length.

Concerned about chemical fumes in your salon or spa? Electrocorp has designed a wide range of indoor air cleaners for the beauty industry, which can remove airborne chemicals and particles, including toluene and formaldehyde. Contact Electrocorp for more information and a free consultation. Call 1-866-667-0297 or write to sales@electrocorp.net.

Construction workers may be exposed to silica dust, which has been linked to cancer.

Construction workers may be exposed to silica dust, which is linked to chronic lung disease.

In a classic tug-of-war between keeping contractors safe on the job and the cost of that safety, builders are battling the Occupational Safety and Health Administration over its proposed standards for silica.

Crystalline silica is found in soil, sand, granite, quartz, and other natural substances that contractors work with. When blasted, cut, or drilled, those stones and minerals produce dust that workers can inhale.

Long-term exposure can lead to respiratory problems and silicosis, a chronic lung disease.

OSHA’s plan to require more aggressive protection has been in limbo since the agency introduced it in September 2013.

After multiple extensions, the proposed rule had one of the longest public comment periods in OSHA’s history.

Although the comment period is closed, the Construction Industry Safety Coalition, a consortium of 25 trade associations, sent a report to OSHA last week saying the agency’s proposed requirements for lowering the exposure to silica on job sites could cost the industry billions of dollars more than the government has projected.

In an accompanying letter to Assistant Labor Secretary David Michaels, a lawyer for the Coalition called the proposed rule “potentially… the most expensive OSHA standard ever for the construction industry.”

The government’s case

Both sides agree that contractors working in mining, quarrying, road construction, with cement or flint, and in sand blasting and glass industries are most likely to be at risk.

But they disagree about the best way to mitigate that risk.

OSHA’s proposed construction standard would require employers to measure the amount of silica that workers are exposed to, during an eight-hour work day, to see if it could exceed a level acceptable to OSHA (25 micrograms of silica per cubic meter of air). If the exposure measures more than 50 micrograms, the company must protect workers.

In addition, the proposed rule would require construction firms to limit workers’ access to high-exposure areas; use dust controls to protect workers from inhaling higher-than-acceptable amounts of the powder; supply respirators when those dust controls aren’t enough to limit a worker’s exposure; and offer medical exams, including chest X-rays and lung function tests, every three years to workers who are exposed to high levels of silica for 30 or more days a year.

The rule would also mandate more employee training and careful record-keeping that documents workers’ exposure and medical exams.

The builders’ response

Builders and trades involved in commercial, residential, road, and heavy industrial construction have partnered to oppose the proposed rule. They back a Construction Industry Safety Coalition request for OSHA to withdraw its planned new standard and instead bolster enforcement of the existing rule.

The cross-sector Coalition claims that the proposed silica standards will cost the industry $5 billion per year—a whopping $4.5 billion more than OSHA has estimated.

“We are deeply concerned about the misguided assumptions and cost and impact errors that OSHA has relied upon in creating this proposed rule that will significantly affect our industry,” Tom Woods, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders, said in a press release.

Woods asked OSHA to put its proposal aside and instead work with the industry on a compromise that is “technologically and economically feasible [and] also works to improve industry workers’ health and safety.”

The Coalition claims OSHA’s cost estimates reflect “a fundamental misunderstanding of the construction industry.”

The Coalition’s report estimates that 80% of the cost of complying with the proposed rule will come from paying for additional equipment, labor, and record-keeping. The remaining 20% will result from increased prices for materials like concrete, glass, roofing shingles, tile, paint, and countertops, as manufacturers pass their compliance costs on to builders.

In addition, the industry has predicted that the proposed rule will lead to the loss of more than 33,000 full-time jobs among contractors, equipment suppliers, and building products manufacturers, and another 20,000 economy-wide when laid-off construction and supplier workers no longer have earnings to spend.

Add in part-time and seasonal jobs, and the number soars to 80,000 lost positions, the Coalition’s report says.

Source: Construction Dive

Concerned about dust exposure on the job? Electrocorp has designed a wide range of industrial and commercial air cleaners for construction, renovation and other industry applications. Armed with high quality dust filters as well as a carbon filter and other options, these air cleaners remove airborne dust particles, chemicals, fumes, smells, bacteria, viruses and more. Contact Electrocorp for more information and a free consultation by calling 1-866-667-0297 or writing to sales@electrocorp.net.

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