Formaldehyde a serious danger to North Carolina hair stylists

Hair salon workers and owners are being warned by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) about the potential exposure to formaldehyde from some hair straightening and smoothing products.

Our workers’ compensation attorneys in Asheville, Charlotte and Greensboro know that formaldehyde is a serious health concern. It can cause allergic reactions of the skin, lungs and eyes; it can irritate noses and eyes and has been linked to lung and nose cancer.
Federal OSHA and many state OSHA agencies have been conducting investigations in a response to complaints about possible exposure to formaldehyde. Oregon’s OSHA, Connecticut’s Department of Public Health, and agencies in many other states have already issued warnings. Formaldehyde was found in the air by federal OSHA when stylists used hair smoothing products.

It is required by law for formaldehyde to be listed on labels or in material safety data sheets but some products did not have it listed as an ingredient. A result of one investigation found a salon had high levels of formaldehyde even though the products being used were labeled formaldehyde-free. California’s OSHA has already issued violations to a distributer and importer of smoothing products claiming to be formaldehyde-free when in fact the products contain formaldehyde.

OSHA requires distributors, manufacturers and importers of goods that contain formaldehyde in any form, or that can discharge formaldehyde during use, to include facts about formaldehyde and its hazards on the labels and within the material safety data sheets that are given to employers.

“Workers have the right to know the risks associated with the chemicals with which they work, and how to protect themselves,” said federal OSHA Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels. “Employers need to know these risks in order to ensure the safety and health of their employees.”

To reduce the potential exposure to stylists, OSHA recommends to salon owners not to use products that contain oxymethylene, oxomethane, methanal, paraform, methylene oxide, formic aldehyde, formaldehyde, methylene glycol, formalin or Chemical Abstract Service Number 50-00-0.

If a salon owner insists on using formaldehyde-containing hair product, then the following OSHA’s standards must be adhered to:
-Conduct air monitoring.
-Install proper ventilation where needed.
-Train staff about formaldehyde.
-Provide protective equipment including: chemical resistant aprons, gloves, chemical splash goggles and face shields.

Further information on health hazards of formaldehyde is available on OSHA’s website.

If you have suffered an illness at work or are dealing with a workers’ compensation disability claim in North Carolina, call the Lee Law Offices, P.A. for a free consultation to discuss your rights. Call 1-800-887-1965 today.

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