Nail technicians may be at increased risk for a variety of work-related diseases including skin disease, respiratory illness, musculoskeletal disorders, cancer, reproductive issues and infections, according to research from the Centre for Research Expertise in Occupational Disease (CREOD).
Compounds associated with these health problems (such as toluene, methyl methacrylate and volatile organic compounds) may be found in nail salons.
When it comes to their health, nail technicians are most worried about workplace chemical exposures related to hypersensitivity and pregnancy, found the researchers, who interviewed Chinese immigrant women in the nail salon industry in central Toronto. In fact, pregnancy issues were a common thread among the participants interviewed. For this reason, prevention efforts with a focus on pregnancy may be most engaging for female nail technicians, said CREOD, which is based in Toronto.
Nail technicians were also concerned about musculoskeletal disorders related to ergonomics as well as communicable diseases associated with cleanliness of equipment.
Overall, the women spoke of their health concerns with a significant sense of fear and uncertainty, found the research.
CREOD identified several barriers to addressing these concerns, including the status quo (some feel that health symptoms are a normal part of the job) and little or no training on workplace health measures and self-protection.
Nail technicians are also hesitant to speak up because they want to keep their jobs, they have a sense of fear or indebtedness to the owner and internalizing hardships is a characteristic of Chinese culture. Salon owners need to be more engaged in occupational health and safety, said the researchers.
CREOD recommends existing print resources on nail salon workplace health be improved to be more useful to immigrant women. Resources should inspire awareness on workplace health risks, but not in a fear-mongering way. Rather, they should highlight the possibility of being able to work as a healthy nail technician, the research said, and empower nail technicians to take control of their workplace health.
Photo: REUTERS/Eriko Sugita
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