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Hygiene alert: beauty clinics lack oversight

Aug 13th, 2010 | By | Category: Front Page Layout, Lead Story, News

beauty salon LEADWELLINGTON beauty therapists may be next to come under city council scrutiny after complaints about unhygienic practices.

One complaint to public health officials in the past week involved a woman whose nail became infected after a visit to a nail bar.

Wellington City councillor Leonie Gill, who chairs the regulatory processes committee, says she will consult council staff on options to deal with the lack of oversight.

When the issue was raised by NewsWire, Ms Gill said this was the first time she had been notified of the issue and it warranted some action.

She says a voluntary inspection and endorsement system might be an option.

Hairdressing salons are already subject to council inspections to check they adhere to health standards defined in national legislation.

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Annie Nicholson (right), who operates Absolute Bliss Beauty Therapy in Karori’s Marsden Village, says she worries that due to a lack of accountability, beauty therapy clinics may not maintain appropriate standards of hygiene.

Beauticians deal with blood, skin infections and needles, so hygiene and a verified cleaning schedule are pivotal, she says.

While the clinic may appear clean, clients have no way of telling whether cleaning procedures are adequate.

“Essentially, beauty therapy clinics can operate as they wish,” she says.

City council environmental health officer Radha Odean says any complaints relating to the beauty industry are referred to Wellington Regional Public Health (RPH).

RPH health protection officer Vanessa Young says the unit was notified of the nail infection, but because it was not a notifiable disease the matter was not investigated.

Ms Young also confirms a complaint received earlier this year related to unhygienic practices and pests.

None of the complaints involve notifiable diseases, so RPH is not required to follow them up, she says.

Some councils have bylaws addressing aspects of the practices of beauty therapists and beauty therapy clinics.

The Public Health Bill – currently at the select committee stage – also has the potential to regulate beauty therapy nationwide.

beauty salon SECONDARYLocal Government New Zealand has made a submission on the Bill, but communications advisor Kelly Mitchell says this was more concerned with the regulations around skin piercing and tattooing.

The New Zealand Association of Registered Beauty Therapists says it expects members to abide by its Code of Practice – a 24-page document outlining health and hygiene protocol.

Association manager Vivien Engler says she expects the Government will move to regulate beauty therapy some time in the future.

“But in the meantime, there is really nothing stopping unqualified people from setting up a business, as long as they comply with any local council bylaws.”

Ms Gill says Wellington City Council may need to get involved, but she would not like regulations to stifle home beauty therapy businesses.

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