BEAUTY salons are putting customers at risk of injury and infections because local government isn’t adequately enforcing mandatory skin penetration laws, say industry insiders.
An Ellenbrook salon manager, who requested only his surname be used, said little had been done over the past year to clean up the industry since he requested the City of Swan undertake more inspections.
“Salons are meant to be registered with their local government for anything that punctures or tears the skin such as waxing, shaving, tweezing, microdermabrasion, electrolysis, eyebrow tattooing and skin needling,” Mr Brook said.
“From my research more than 90 per cent of the home-based and shop front salons operating in the area are violating health and safety skin penetration regulations that outline basic hygiene, disinfection and sterilisation requirements to protect customers from harm and contracting fungal and staph infections.
“We have had customers come to us where their faces have taken months to heal from skin needling because the therapist didn’t know what they were doing.
“I have photos of one salon worker skin needling at a depth that is only legal for doctors to penetrate and also flouting health and safety regulations by not wearing gloves.
“The responsibility to enforce the regulations at beauty salons lies with local governments.
“It is their job to protect both naive therapists and the community from risk.”
City of Swan chief executive Mike Foley said it had dedicated resources to monitor compliance and had carried out 81 inspections over the past five years.
“The City currently has 60 active skin penetration premises,” he said.
“We average one complaint per year, mainly in relation to premises operating without registering rather than specific health concerns.”
Mr Foley said the City had not administered any fines or prosecutions and it was not possible to determine exactly how many warning and improvement requirements had been issued over the past 10 years.
“However, in the last 12 months there have been 10 previously unregistered businesses that have been added to the City’s records following information provided by a resident,” he said.
Hairdressing and Beauty Industry Association chief executive Sandra Campitelli said many councils did not have the manpower to inspect salons.
“You can be a butcher and decide one day that you want to be a beauty therapist, operate a laser machine and no one will tell you otherwise,” she said.
“I hear terrible stories from clients who are victims of an unregulated industry where some operators really push the boundary of what they can do because it’s lucrative.
“I had a mother call me after her daughters came home covered in blood after having a vampire facial.
“At the worst end of the scale a 35-year-old woman died at a salon in NSW during a breast enhancement procedure.”
Ms Campitelli said rogue operators tarnished the reputation of qualified therapists.
“Our qualified people who specialise in these areas are second to none but because there is no need to be qualified people think why bother,” she said.
“These untrained staff are often the ones that set up shop and undercut others with cheap as chips prices.
“It’s a case of consumer beware. Ask for qualifications and don’t always be price driven.”
Ms Campitelli called for better regulation and training in the sector which had experienced tremendous growth and advances in technology.
“There needs to be a register of properly trained people that can be publicised so customers know that these people are qualified and know what they are doing,” she said.
The WA Health Department said the Health (Skin Penetration Procedures) Regulations 1998 and the Code of Practice for Skin Penetration Procedures were currently under review and expected to be replaced within two years.
Owners who fail to comply with the relevant regulations may be fined up to $1000, plus daily penalties.