Crackdown makes salons clean and safe

Health and hygiene violations in salons have decreased by 20 per cent from last year as the municipality prioritises awareness and inspections.

ABU DHABI // A campaign of education and inspections backed up by enforcement has cut public health offences in salons and beauty parlours by 20 per cent.

Four out of five salons operating in the capital have had no warnings or fines this year, and 100 new ones that have opened are all expected to meet the municipality's new health and hygiene standards.

"Businesses have received our message," said Khaleefa Al Romaithi, the director of public health for the municipality. "There are fewer fines this year because we've increased inspections and education."

Nearly 30 inspectors carry out daily assessments in Abu Dhabi, up from eight in 2010. Inspectors aim to visit each of the capital's 1,500 salons and beauty parlours once a month, with past violators inspected more frequently.

The exact number of fines imposed was not available.

The municipality has made public health in salons a priority this year. It released a guide to salon and cosmetic centres and distributed information to universities and shopping malls.

New standards for beauty centres - which include spas, nail salons and airbrush tanning centres - regulate cleanliness, services offered and employee appearance.

All salon employees are required to obtain health fitness certificates from the Department of Preventive Medicine, maintain personal hygiene and wear a standard uniform.

Chairs in hair salons must be at least 1.5 metres apart, and partitions between chairs must be made of a non-absorbent and easy-to-clean material. Each centre must have a washing machine or proof of a contract with a laundry service for washing towels. Paper neck strips can be used only once.

Nail salons must use a disinfecting solution, and all instruments must be sealed in plastic for each customer.

Fines range from Dh500 to Dh5,000 for repeat offenders.

Mr Al Romaithi said common offences were the use of expired cosmetics, lack of labelling on herbal products, improper storage of products and failure to properly clean instruments.

Laser devices, which are restricted for use only in specialist beauty and skin-care clinics, and tools for tattooing and slimming, are banned from salons.

Syringes, including those used for Botox, and black henna, a variation of the natural dye that can cause severe allergic reactions and scarring, have also been confiscated from beauty centres.

In addition to regular surprise inspections, the salons are also to be visited by “mystery shopper” customers to “see how they operate when an inspector is not around”, Mr Al Romaithi said.

Nahed Hamed, the owner of La Gazelle Beauty Saloon, said she was given a checklist of regulations before she opened her shop in Al Nahyan in May. “The customers are well educated and when they come in they are looking for cleanliness,” Ms Hamed said.

“This is a personal experience, and customers are picky,” said the owner of Bellacure Nails Spa, which opened in May.

“Customers will make sure they are getting the best treatments, and they won’t accept something that is less than safe.”

For Maya Khatib, manager of Nail Couch in Khalidiyah, adhering to health standards makes good business sense.

“We’re not doing this because we’re scared of the municipality,” said Ms Khatib, who opened her nail salon in June. “We do this for the client, for the business.”

Abu Dhabi Municipality is working to develop health-standard training programmes for salon employees at vocational institutes and universities.

All employees will be required to receive certification before being allowed to work.

jthomas@thenational.ae

Published: August 29, 2011 04:00 AM

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