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Staying safe as a barber in COVID-19

July 31, 2020

Has anyone been overloaded with info on how to operate safely, but isn’t really sure how it works on the salon floor?

We spoke to Nathan, a barber and HSA Ambassador, who works in Melbourne, where restrictions have closed the industry for six weeks. Nathan wants to share his experience with barbers in Regional Victoria and in the Sydney area, who are working in a COVID-19 hotspot.

His major challenge has been maintaining super-strict health and safety standards while keeping his appointments on time, and he’s given some tips to keep yourself and your clients safe at work.

Skill yourself in best hygiene practice

After 7 years in the industry, cleaning was already second nature for Nathan. “All disposable blades, soaking the handle in solution, using a new blade each time, and using alcohol and aftershave.”

This should be common knowledge, but plenty of barbers cut corners without realising the safety hazards. “Some barbers don’t change a razor every time, just when there is blood. They don’t know what they’re doing, but no one is there to tell you how to do it.”

Barbercide have online certificates for hair and beauty workers, and HSA also has a guide on what to do to protect yourself from COVID-19. Take the time and make sure you’ve got the skills and knowledge to keep your workspace sanitary.

Show off your cleaning skills

Nathan’s shop kicked it up a notch with health and safety, while keeping to their 30-minute appointments. “Every day, half an hour, someone new is in,” he says. “We just have to hustle.”

His advice is to make cleaning part of the service when you’re talking to clients about what they want, and introducing yourself. It shows you’re committed to health and safety, and gives you an extra few minutes to make sure everything is 100% sanitised.

“I’ve got it down to a T. I have a tray with my clippers that I spray with Barbercide, and I soak all the guards in Barbercide. It’s all live, there’s no magic tricks. They see me putting the razor blade in while I use it.”

Always wear your PPE!!

Nathan’s employer supplies masks and gloves for their staff. “We do two a day, changing every four hours. We go through maybe 7 or 8 boxes of gloves a week.” Face shields are also on the way for extra protection, when Stage 4 ends.

The Victorian government has warned there will be on-the-spot fines for people out and about who aren’t wearing their mask. Although masks are mandatory and PPE should be provided for free under WHS legislation, we still see some barbers and stylists going without.

If your salon isn’t providing PPE, especially gloves and masks, we urge you to get in touch with HSA straight away. Not only is this unsafe and unlawful, but you are risking a fine.

Nathan is glad that his workplace did the right thing provided PPE for free. “It’s expensive to sanitise, especially with masks and gloves. I don’t know how people who charge $10-15 a haircut can afford all of that.”

If you feel like your work environment is unsafe, you have the right to stop work and HSA will be there to support you. As an HSA member, you’ll have the backing of legal and industrial experts who will inform you of your rights at work, and help you fight for them. Don’t forget, your health is what’s most important.

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