A trial by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has found fears among hairdressers that non-latex gloves get in the way of their work, despite protecting their skin from dermatitis, can be overcome.
Hairdressers in 750 salons were offered free long-sleeved (30cm) gloves, which could be turned down to create a cuff to stop water running down inside the glove and onto the hand.
Eight out of 10 reported back that they were comfortable to wear, and three-quarters said they were able to handle customers’ hair without snagging, a worry that had put many off using such gloves in the past.
The HSE has estimated that, because of the amount of contact hairdressers have with chemicals in hair products and water, they are 17 times more likely to suffer from work-related skin damage including dermatitis than any other group of workers. This means that 70% of hairdressers may suffer from skin damage at some point during their career, it added.
In the trial, each salon received a free supply of vinyl gloves and nitrile gloves and hairdressers were asked to use them for all tasks that involved skin contact with water and products used for rinsing, shampooing, colouring, bleaching and straightening.
An accompanying campaign pack offered information about how to prevent dermatitis, including good hand care such as thoroughly drying hands, frequent skin checking and using moisturiser cream.
Dr Isla Fairhurst, project manager for the skin disease project at the HSE, said: “We wanted to see whether hairdressers could continue their work happily and practically while using non-latex gloves, which help prevent dermatitis and other skin conditions.
“In the current economic climate, we hope that salon managers and stock buyers will see that providing these gloves and taking simple steps to improve health and safety is good business sense,” she added.