It is imperative to protect oneself and others in the Tattooing Industry. This includes the Client (person who is having the Tattoo administered on their skin) and the Operator (the person administrating the Tattoo). This article addresses general tattooing safety in relation to UK Law.
The Tattooing of Minors Act 1969 defines a tattoo as “…the insertion into the skin of any colouring material designed to leave a permanent mark”. Tattoos are a form of body adornment and a form of body modification because they are a permanent skin alteration unless removed. The Age of Consent prohibits tattooing of anyone in Great Britain under the age of 18 years. The Tattoo specialist should make every effort to prove that the person requesting Tattoos are over the age of 18 years. It is not sufficient to simply ask them their age. As a minimum standard one should ask the client to produce proof of age such as a driving licence or passport. Both of these carry a photograph of the holder with an identity number and this may be recorded on the consent form should a photocopy of the ID not be possible.
As from the 1 April 2004 the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1982 had given Local Authorities powers to regulate businesses providing semi-permanent skin-colouring (e.g. micro pigmentation, semi-permanent make-up and temporary tattooing) and piercing. In London, local authorities use the London Local Authorities Act 1991, which includes powers to regulate micro pigmentation businesses. With regards to the Health and Safety at Work etc Act (HSWA), 1974, Section 2 of the Act places a duty upon every employer to ensure the health, safety and welfare of their employees, so far as is reasonably practicable. Section 3(1) of the Act is particularly applicable to business premises where the public may be affected by business activity (as is in the case of a Tattoo business), and states that: ‘It shall be the duty of every employer to conduct his undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons not in his employment, who may be affected, are not exposed to risk to their health or safety’. Section 3(2) of the Act places a similar duty on every self-employed person. The HSWA also requires employers to provide information, instruction, training and supervision that is necessary to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of their employees. This is relevant to persons employed in Tattoo parlours, self-employed operators and the Clients.
Other legislation includes The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations. Employers with five or more employees need to record the significant findings of any risk assessment. Appropriate training considerations are an important component of minimizing risk within any working environment. This covers issues such as ventilation, room temperature, lighting, cleanliness, room dimensions, workstations, flooring, windows, doors, and sanitation and rest facilities. This act also places duties on the maintenance of equipment in workplaces. This will include the Tattoo needles, PPE and all equipment used.
The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER) focuses on work equipment rather than the workplace and applies not just to employers but also to anyone having control of work equipment or supervising its use. PUWER applies to equipment used for micro pigmentation, which by definition is not only work equipment but carries specific risks both to users and clients. Duties are to ensure that equipment is fit for purpose, is used under suitable conditions, is maintained and inspected, that use is restricted where it is likely to involve specific health and safety risks, that information and training are provided to users and that protective arrangements are put in place in regard to dangerous parts.
The Supply of Machinery (Safety) (Amended) Regulations place duties upon those who supply machinery including manufacturers, importers and others in the supply chain. If at least on part of the machine moves (e.g vibration, rotating or cutting), and, if the movement results from external energy e.g. electricity/battery, then the machine falls into the remit of these regulations. Micro pigmentation equipment is classed as machinery. The exceptions are manually operated needle pens with no moving parts. The main parts of this legislation is that the responsible person/manufacturer should ensure that machinery and safety components satisfy the relevant essential health and safety requirements. Schedule 3 of the regulations detail the essential health and safety requirements, and, the machinery must be accompanied by instructions for safe use and maintenance. The responsible person must issue a declaration of conformity, which is issued with the finished product. This declaration will contain details such as the manufacturer’s address, the machinery type and serial number. The responsible person should affix the CE marking if they are satisfied it is safe.
The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) require employers and the self-employed to prevent, or control the exposure to employees and others of the dangers of using hazardous substances. This includes exposure to chemicals and biological agents. COSHH sets out basic measures that employers must take to assess the risks associated with hazardous substances, e.g. liquids, aerosols, volatile fumes. Also, to implement any measures needed to prevent or control exposure and to establish good working practices. This includes the use and correct storage of the cleaning products and disinfectants required to effectively clean micro pigmentation equipment, and, to control contact with body fluids by wearing PPE. COSHH also requires sufficient information, instruction and training to be provided to employees. This includes the names of substances they work with, the handling of materials which may be contaminated with blood products, the precautions to protect themselves and other employees. This includes the disposal of materials containing blood products. Also information on how to use personal protective equipment and the emergency procedures to be followed, e.g. in the event of first aid administration and spillages.