Following reports of widespread hazardous work conditions and low wages in New York nail salons, Governor Cuomo convened a multi-agency Task Force comprising of representatives from the Department of Labor, Department of State, and Department of Health to develop and implement immediate reforms.
These reforms include new legislation and emergency regulations, administrative changes, and an outreach campaign to educate workers, businesses and the public. On May 18, 2015, the New York Department of State issued emergency regulations intended to protect salon workers. Below is a summary of the regulations:
Beginning June 15, 2015, employers must maintain the following safety equipment at each workstation and provide it to workers at no cost, upon request:
A disposable or reusable National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) approved N-95 or N-100 respirator, that is properly fitted (sized) for each employee who uses the workstation.
All workers are required to wear the respirators when buffing or filing nails or when using acrylic powder.
Nail salon owners must comply with U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) respiratory protection program requirements in 29 CFR 1910.134.
Protective gloves made of nitrile, or another similar non-permeable material for workers with a sensitivity to nitrile gloves.
A sufficient number of gloves must be available to use a new pair of gloves for each customer. Employees are required to wear gloves when working with potentially hazardous chemicals or waste and during cleanup, or when performing any nail services that have a risk of breaking the customer’s skin.
- Eye Protection
All workers must wear eye protection when preparing or dispensing hazardous chemicals.
Employers are required to post a “Bill of Rights” in a highly visible place to workers and the customers. The Bill of Rights is available in different languages:
New ventilation requirements are being proposed as follows:
“Ventilation that complies with mechanical ventilation standards for nail salons set forth in the 2010 Mechanical Code of New York State or a more restrictive local standard, if one applies. Additionally, an owner shall ensure that both manicure and pedicure stations are equipped with a source-capture system capable of exhausting not less than 50 cubic-feet-per-minute and with exhaust inlets located 12 inches horizontally and vertically from the point of chemical application. Mechanical ventilation standards at sections 401-403, pages27-30, of the Mechanical Code of New York State (MCNYS), published August, 2010 by the International Code Council, Inc., is incorporated herein by reference.”
The employer is required to keep all Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) for inspection. MSDS must be kept in a written or electronic format and be readily accessible to all employees. All employees must be informed of the location of, and have access to MSDS.
Any Notice of Violation pertaining to unlicensed activity, must immediately be posted in the front window, on the front door or on the outside wall of the establishment. It must be within five feet of the front door, at a vertical height of at least four to six feet from the ground or floor. The Notice of Violation can only be taken down when authorized by the Department of State.
Regulations also mandate bonding and liability insurance and minimum wage requirements.
I believe the regulations will be successful only if there is ongoing enforcement as well as outreach and some compliance assistance, provided in different languages for the salon owners and workers to be able to understand. The state should also partner with community organizations representing or associated with these workers such as the Korean American Nail Salon Association as well as coordinating efforts with New York City and Federal OSHA. It is estimated that New York has over 3,385 nail salons.
The regulations are not intended to shut down certain nail salons but to ensure workplace safety and comfortable working conditions for nail technicians who previously have been taken advantage of and chronically exposed to toxic chemicals. Salons that willfully continue to disregard workplace safety requirements and other labor regulations deserve to be heavily fined and or shut down.