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28 March 2014

New European report on risks in the hairdressing sector

The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) released on 12 February a report on health and safety in the hairdressing sector. The authors of the report enumerate the wide range of risks – from chemical substances to stress – to which the more than one million hairdressers in the EU are exposed. The most widespread ailments affecting these workers, 80% of whom are women, are skin diseases and musculoskeletal disorders; constant contact with water, combined with the handling of products containing chemical substances, triggers skin diseases such as eczema. Research conducted in the United Kingdom has shown that 70% of hairdressers have suffered from work-related skin disorders during their working lives.

It is also estimated that asthma and musculoskeletal disorders are much more prevalent among hairdressers than in other occupations. A French study has found that, while hairdressers represent only 1% of the workforce, 20% of the women affected by work-related asthma are hairdressers.

The EU-OSHA report reviews the initiatives undertaken, since the early 2000s, by the European social partners in the sector and which led to the adoption, on 26 April 2012, of an EU framework agreement to improve health and safety among hairdressers.

Following this agreement, the social partners asked the European Commission to transpose it into a binding directive, in accordance with the procedures enshrined in the Treaty.

Last October, however, the EU Commission announced that it would not issue a proposal for legislative implementation of the agreement during the present Commission's term of office. The EU-OSHA report states that the Commission has commissioned a study from an external contractor in order to collect data on accidents and health problems in the sector. A further purpose of the study is to estimate the costs and benefits of the provisions laid down in the agreement and their financial impact, in particular for SMEs.

Further reading:

EU-OSHA, Occupational health and safety in the hairdressing sector, 12 February 2014

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