Personal injuries caused to customers by unqualified, unregulated hairdressers may, like discarded hair clippings, soon be consigned to the barber shop floor. A recent Parliamentary debate has proposed that better customer protection should be provided by introducing compulsory state registration.
Shadow Wales Minister, Nia Griffith, led the recent call on the Government to 'change with the times' and update the lack of protection provided by the Hairdressers (Registration) Act of 1964 to today’s nearly 39 million customers of barber shops and hairdressing salons. According to the Llanelli MP, "The world has changed since this law was put in place over 50 years ago when most hairdressers or barbers offered a short back and sides, a perm or a shampoo and set at the most.”
Griffith points to the wide range of services now available, such as hair extensions, colour correction and straightening treatments, which often involve “the use of sharp instruments and a range of potentially harmful chemicals.” Apart from the dangers posed by hair dyes and bleaches, other types of injuries, which are known to occur in hairdressing salons include, infections caused by dirty equipment, electrical shocks and burns received from hair straighteners or curling tongs.
Despite the hairdressing industry employing around 245,000 people - one per cent of the total adult working population in the UK - currently, no formal qualifications are required to practice as a hairdresser or barber, and registration under the 1964 act is voluntary. As a result, less than 10 per cent ten of hairdressers have registered with the Hair Council, who also state that in one year alone, more than 350 injuries were caused by hairdressers or barbers.
As well as the US and Australia, most European countries already have compulsory registration systems. It’s hoped that the introduction of the same system in the UK would provide assurance and better protection to the customer that the person employed at a salon is appropriately qualified, and has trained and worked as a hairdresser or barber for more than six years.