Personal Service Establishments and your health – Submitted

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Human beings like to be unique. We choose different looks and styles for our clothes, our homes, and in many cases our hair and bodies. And when it comes to altering physical appearance, it is often done through the services of a Personal Service Establishment – or what an Environmental Health Officer refers to as a “PSE”. PSEs can range from barber shops and tanning salons, to tattoo parlors and body piercing establishments. Environmental Health Officers (EHOs) work with these establishments to ensure a safe and clean environment for their clients.
In Northern Health, the frequency we inspect PSEs  is based on the invasiveness of the procedures offered. For instance, a tattoo parlour or a piercing establishment where the procedures enter the skin, would be inspected more often than a facility that only offers tanning services or hair styling.
During PSE inspections, EHOs are looking for things like an adequate supply of water, good separation of clean and dirty tools, proper sanitizers, proper sterilizing procedures and the use of single-use-only implements where appropriate or required. These elements demonstrate that the operator of any type of facility is making every effort to reduce or eliminate potential health hazards.
When choosing a personal service establishment to give your business to, there are things you should always be on the lookout for:
·         Cleanliness – If a facility is not clean to the naked eye it may indicate instruments are also not being cleaned properly
·         Handsinks – There should be a handsink with soap and paper towel nearby and anyone performing a service should wash their hands before beginning any work
Before undergoing a more invasive procedure like piercing, tattooing, waxing or a manicure there are some questions you might ask of the service provider:
Has the facility been inspected?
Does the facility have written sanitation procedures?
What risks are associated with the procedure, and how does the facility minimize or eliminate those risks.
What after care will be necessary? (You should receive verbal or written instructions on how to care for things like a new tattoo or piercing.)
How are instruments sanitized/sterilized? Does the establishment use single-use instruments from sterile packaging?  Is an autoclave used, and has it been tested recently for bacterial growth?
Are any needles single-use? (All needles, ink and other materials that cannot be properly sanitized must only be used on one client, then discarded.)
How will your skin be prepared for the procedure? Will it be properly cleaned and disinfected, or even shaved before a procedure begins?
When you make an appointment, prepare yourself with some knowledge; know what is supposed to happen and ask questions. If you visit a facility and have concerns about the cleanliness or safety of the operation, notify your local Environmental Health Officer. An inspection will be made and any health concerns noted will be corrected. And if you ever feel you have acquired an infection from any procedure, consult a doctor immediately.

Sarah Nicklason

Environmental Health Officer

Northern Health

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