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    Keratin Hair Treatment vs. OSHA

    Curly hair before straightening and straightened hair after side by side

    Formaldehyde, OSHA and Hair Straightening Products – What’s up?

    In September of this year the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued its second hazard alert to hair salon owners and employees about possible formaldehyde exposure when working with some hair straightening and smoothing products.

    Hairdressing salon owners who choose to use hair straightening and smoothing products that contain or release formaldehyde are now required by OSHA to perform air quality tests while using these products. If formaldehyde is found to be present at higher levels than OSHA’s limits during any 15-minute period, then the salon owner is required to jump through quite a few hoops in order to keep workers and clients safe. Salon owners must follow OSHA’s formaldehyde standard if they are to use, manufacture, import or distribute the products.

    Formaldehyde is a cancer hazard at certain levels. It can also cause allergic reactions or irritation to the lungs, eyes and the skin.  Beauty salon owners and employees need to be properly trained when using hair straightening and smoothing products. The level of formaldehyde exposure in any given salon is determined by a number of factors such as salon size and ventilation, along with treatment applications, blow-dry and flat iron times. Suitable ventilation and observance to proper procedure will result in lower levels of gas being released into the air.

    OSHA issues citations against hair salons, manufacturers and distributors

    In September 2011, OSHA issued citations to two Florida manufacturers and distributors for failing to protect their own employees to possible formaldehyde exposure as well as the failure to communicate the hazards of formaldehyde to salon owners, hair stylists and the public consumers. They have also issued 23 citations with fines up to $17,500. to salon owners and beauty schools in Massachusetts, Connecticut,, Pennsylvania, Florida, Illinois, New York, New Jersey and Ohio, for failing to protect their workers from overexposure and potential exposure to formaldehyde.

    OSHA is requiring that if salons are going to use these products, they must be aware to use protective measures such as air monitoring and training. Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA says, “What is very troubling to the agency is that some of these products clearly expose workers to formaldehyde even when the label states they are ‘formaldehyde free.’”

    “The best way to control exposure to formaldehyde is to use products that do not contain formaldehyde. Salons should check the label or product information to make sure it does not list formaldehyde, formalin, methylene glycol or any of the other names for formaldehyde,” said Michaels. “If salon owners decide to use products that contain or release formaldehyde, then they must follow a number of protective practices — including air monitoring, worker training and, if levels are over OSHA limits, good ventilation or respirators.”

    The industry fights back

    Keratin Complex has announced plans to dispute OSHA’s allegations that their products do not comply with OSHA’s safety standards. Larry Solomon, president of Keratin Complex says, “We disagree with OSHA’s inflammatory and inaccurate report and we are asking for a full retraction.” Keratin Complex not only complies with all OSHA standards but we meet or exceed their safety standards and requirements.”

    Now the folks behind Keratin Complex and other Professional Keratin Smoothing Council (PKSC) members are lobbying for OSHA to adopt newer, more accurate testing methods in addition to carrying out accurate air quality tests in salons. Their claim is that OSHA used an older technology method that chemically changes the composition of the product.

    Barb Quinn on Google+  




    1. Most every article on the internet pertaining to the “hair smoothing controversy”, and recent events, including OSHA warnings and fines, alert salons about the importance of appropriate work practices and proper salon ventilation. Most salons lack proper ventilation needed to ensure safety for the full range of chemical services offered, including hair smoothing, color, perms, bleach and artificial nail services.

      New technology (salon chemical source capture ventilation) has been developed and proven to be highly effective for improving salon air quality by minimizing exposure to formaldehyde, as well as the many gases, vapors and dusts found in salons. There are many helpful resources on the web to help salon professionals stay informed as well as assist in meeting OSHA requirements for safety.

      Toxic and Hazardous Substances ~ 1910.1048 App A
      Engineering Controls
      Ventilation is the most widely applied engineering control method for reducing the concentration of airborne substances in the breathing zones of workers.

      Comment by Bonnie Duerst — December 30, 2011 @ 10:41 am

    2. Willfull negligence, that’s what I think of regarding all smoothers. We know they are carcinogenic. When they were
      Done in my salon before we banned them,I would become nauseous,with burning eyes,and throat,and a headache that
      Could last 1hour or more. This is not worth my time or a possible cancer diagnosis in 10 years.
      As professionals we are in charge of what products
      Are used on our clients,to not do research and rely on the
      Government to Decide,well lots of other contries have
      Decided that they are bad news. Your clients smooth hair is not worth a cancer diagnosis. Look at The facts,these will not be legal soon and for good reason.

      Comment by James Wilkinson — December 27, 2011 @ 7:13 pm

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