When it comes to liability issues, take the advice of an insurance professional: Both your actual sanitation practices and the appearance of cleanliness can reduce potential claims against you.
by Sean Brownyard
With antibiotic-resistant staph infections like MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) hitting the front pages of the news and the severity of these types of non-treatable infections escalating, consumers are wary of any place they might be open to infection — including their nail salon.
We’ve seen a host of claims over the years, from infections caused by unsterilized tools to fungus growing underneath acrylics. A customer complaint that could have been just a nuisance 20 years ago could now get you in deep water.
What we’ve learned at Brownyard Group is that preventing these types of claims is not only a matter of actual cleanliness, but also of the appearance of cleanliness. Indeed, customer perception has a major effect on your bottom line as well as on your liability.
When it comes to preventing infection — the first and most important step — we give salon owners these simple actionable items to sanitize their salon environment:
- Hire only licensed technicians who are well schooled in best practices.
- Avoid haste and carelessness.
- Make sure technicians wash their hands after every client or use gloves and dispose of them in between clients.
- Make sure proper sanitation methods are posted and enforced, including your state’s accepted procedures for disinfecting pedicure tubs.
- Disinfect tools after every client or use disposable tools.
- Always use sharp, adjusted instruments.
- Do not allow eating at workstations.
- Deny services to customers with visible infections.
- Use pumice stones instead of razors or Credo tools for calluses. (Most policies will not cover this type of injury and they are illegal in many states.)
Once you’ve made an effort to enforce these sanitary practices, you’d be wise to take the next step and enhance the appearance of your salon. You will reduce or eliminate liability as well as attract more customers.
Here are some simple steps you can take to improve the perception of cleanliness in your salon:
- Do light cleaning every evening.
- Take time to do a more thorough cleaning at least every two weeks.
- Keep dust to a minimum.
- Repair damaged signage and replace old carpets, workstations, or furniture that may have a dirty appearance.
- Keep tools and personal items neatly tucked away in a drawer.
- Repaint the walls every year.
- Talk with patrons about their perception of the salon and make improvements as necessary.
- If you’ve already implemented some of these recommendations, you are on your way to success.
One last item we’ve noticed
When it comes to bookkeeping, nail salons do not always keep the most accurate business records. This is one more step you can take to protect your salon from liability. Keep an appointment book that is well-documented with client names and phone numbers, including walk-in clients. This will prevent against potentially fraudulent claims in which you could be blamed for an infection even if it’s not your fault.