The importance of Employers’ Liability for hair salons and barbershops

Looking after your hair stylist team and wider staff is part and parcel of owning a hair salon or barbershop. It is your responsibility to ensure that your staff have a safe, secure working environment and that you provide the essential equipment they need to perform their role.

Even with all the correct safety procedures in place, a hair salon or barbershop can still pose a potential risk. Hairdressers and barbers are required to handle sharp objects as well as potentially hazardous products including bleach and chemicals, and mistakes can happen even with the most experienced and seasoned professionals.

But what does happen if an employee does injure themselves or has an accident at work? They could decide to make an Employers’ Liability claim against you.

It is vital that you have Employers’ Liability (EL) insurance as it is a legal requirement if you employ staff, even if you have just one employee. It is also necessary to have Employers’ Liability if you have part-time or voluntary staff.

In this blog, we look at what Employers’ Liability cover is and how to keep staff safe, as well as identifying the particular risks that your employees could encounter on a daily basis.

What is Employers’ Liability?

Employers’ Liability is there to protect you if a member of your staff makes a claim against you. This could be due to them falling ill or being injured whilst at work, with the employee putting the blame on you. They may claim compensation for illness or injury, which could amount to thousands of pounds or more. Employers’ Liability should cover you for this, along with your legal fees and costs. If the injury leaves them unable to work, they may also claim against your business for loss of earnings.

What is the law regarding Employers’ Liability?

It is a legal requirement to have Employers’ Liability insurance if you have any employees, including full or part-time employees, contractors, temporary staff, casual workers and volunteers
You must have at least £5 million in Employers’ Liability cover
Employers’ Liability must be provided or backed by an authorised insurer or cover provider
You can be fined up to £2,500 for each day you do not have Employers’ Liability and £1,000 if you do not have a valid Employers’ Liability cover certificate, which will need to be available when requested

Identifying the risks in hairdressers and barber shops

It probably goes without saying that you will want to keep your staff as safe as possible when they are working in your hairdressing salon or barber shop. Therefore, it is important to consider the potential risks of injury, including the implements and products that employees will be working with as well as any risks associated with the work environment. One way to help you identify risks is to carry out regular risk assessments in your premises.

What are some of the most common injuries or risks for hairdressers and barbers?

Accidents can happen in any profession and hairdressing or barbering is no exception. Here are some of the potential risks and injuries that could occur:

  • Cuts, abrasions and bruises caused by sharp objects including scissors and razor blades
  • Allergic reactions and spillage of bleach and chemicals used in hair dye
  • Scalding as a result of using hot water
  • Back injuries caused by faulty chairs and/or fatigue
  • Muscular problems as a result of staff standing on their feet for long periods of time
  • Slips, trips and falls due to slippery floors, trailing wires etc.
  • Burns caused by styling implements
  • Repetitive stress injuries due to using hands all day

Minimising risk in your hair salon or barbershop

It is your responsibility to provide a safe working environment for your staff, but it is equally important for your team to do their part to help maintain safety and follow correct processes. If an accident does occur, you must keep a record of it in your accident book.

Here are a few things that you and your staff can do to help minimise risks:

  • Make sure your team are fully qualified and that their training is up to date
  • Wash hands regularly to prevent infection and between each client and service
  • Wear gloves, masks, protective clothing and eyewear
  • Disinfect frequently touched surfaces
  • Wear rubber-soled shoes to help prevent slipping and falling
  • Adopt best practices for body posture – include training and advice
  • Take regular breaks between customers
  • Read manufacturers’ instructions for the safe use of products
  • Maintain proper lighting levels
  • Check electrical items regularly and don’t leave wires trailing as these can be a trip hazard
  • Use equipment on wheels where possible, including stools, infrared hairdryers etc., so lifting isn’t required
  • Test staff for allergies
  • Make sure your first aid kit is easily accessible and check it frequently
  • Work as a team to carry out risk assessments

COVID-19 and keeping staff safe at your hair salon and barber shop

The pandemic has meant that, when permitted to open, hairdressers and barber shops have had to be even more thorough regarding cleaning and sanitising equipment and frequently touched areas. The wearing of protective equipment including full-face plastic visors, gloves and aprons is vital to help prevent the spread of infection. If any of your staff show any symptoms of coronavirus, including a new, continuous cough, a high temperature or a loss or change in normal sense of smell or taste, they shouldn’t report for work.

Remember it is your responsibility to make your workplace as safe as possible. It is essential that you carry out a full COVID-19 risk assessment to determine the strict safety protocols that need to be followed to keep staff as safe as possible and that you are always up to date with the very latest Government guidance.

Keeping your hair stylists and wider team happy and productive

We have talked a lot about safety and some of the physical risks that could occur in the workplace, but hairdressing and barbering can also be a stressful and tiring job. Tiredness can lead to lack of concentration while overwork can result in disgruntled employees, both of which can lead to mistakes and accidents. Try to empower your employees and show them that you have their best interests at heart.

Here are a few things you can try to motivate your team and boost morale:

  • Provide or fund regular training for your employees, not only to enhance safety but also to improve them as hair stylists
  • Remember a clean hair salon or barber shop is a happy one; less mess means less stress
  • Give regular praise and encouragement to your staff to help keep them motivated
  • Provide a dedicated break area or staff room, somewhere they can rest or step away to for a few minutes
  • Bad hair days happen; it’s important that your team learn to take constructive criticism
  • Encourage an open dialogue with your team and allow them to express any thoughts or concerns they might have with you
  • Team-building or out-of-work activities are a great way to bond and boost morale

How can The Retail Mutual offer you an alternative to Employers’ Liability insurance for your hair salon or barber shop?

It’s clear that barbershops and hairdressers are full of potential hazards, so make sure you don’t end up having to pay the costs associated with an employee claim. As part of its business cover for hair salons and barbershops, The Retail Mutual offers up to £10 million of Employers’ Liability protection backed by an insurance policy to meet your legal obligations. Call 0333 2121 280 to discuss your options with one of The Retail Mutual’s UK-based team or click here to start your quote.

At The Retail Mutual, we understand the importance of keeping your employees and your business safe, which is why we have created a free, downloadable risk assessment guide. In this guide we explore the health and safety of your employees and other risks that may be present in a hair salon or barbershop business, including electrical equipment and fire hazards, as well as providing helpful tips and advice for minimising risk and enhancing safety.

Download your free risk assessment guide below!

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