Public Liability (PL) cover is essential for your salon. Although it is not a legal requirement, as the owner of a salon or barbershop you are responsible for the welfare of every customer that comes into your shop. Accidents do happen and compensation claims can run into thousands or even millions of pounds, so you will need insurance if things don’t quite go to plan. By having Public Liability Insurance or similar cover in place, you can protect your business against any claims made by a customer for an injury or any damage caused to them. In fact there are very few businesses that can operate safely without this protection in place.

What is Public Liability Insurance?

It is designed to protect you if a member of the public is injured or their property is damaged. This applies when they are at your barbershop or hairdressing/beauty salon, or if the injury or damage was a result of your business activities. It can cover compensation claims and your legal costs.

The law regarding Public Liability

  • Public Liability is not a legal requirement
  • However, it is your responsibility to provide a safe environment for the public
  • Some businesses may not work with you if you do not have Public Liability
  • Some local councils demand you have Public Liability in place before the commencement of trading

Identifying the risks to the public in your salon or barbershop

As the business owner, you have a ‘duty of care’ to ensure members of the public stay safe. It is therefore your responsibility to carry out a comprehensive risk assessment and conduct health & safety checks. It is a legal requirement to carry this out and if you have 5 + employees, it must be written down, although it is good practice to record it anyway. To do this, you will need to make a list of things that could cause harm or injury to a customer. Dividing your salon or barbershop into areas will make this task easier. Once the risks have been identified, you will then need to take steps to protect your clients against injury and illness.

Main risks to the public at a salon or barbershop

  1. Poor cleanliness – all equipment needs to be sanitised, sterilised or disposed of after it has been used
  2. Hazardous chemicals – hair dyes, bleaches, brow tints, peroxides, wax solvents should all be treated with care and according to guidelines
  3. Trips, slips and falls – spilled products, hair clippings and water from hair washing can create a wet floor
  4. Inexperienced and unqualified staff – check qualifications and supervise carefully
  5. Fire – have a fire safety strategy and exit routes
  6. Theft of customer belongings – install CCTV cameras

Minimising risk to the public in your hairdressing salon or barbershop

All salon and barbershop services or treatments should always involve a full consultation with the client. You will need to comply with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) regulations when keeping client records and you will need their consent.

  • Allergy testing before applying colour to hair, lashes or eyebrows (this must be carried out at least 48 hours before the appointment)
  • Store chemicals safely so that they cannot fall or be knocked over
  • Take measures to avoid customers slipping, tripping or falling over – unplug electrical appliances when not in use, mop up spills immediately
  • Check smoke detectors and fire extinguishers, and have a clear evacuation plan so customers can vacate the building quickly
  • Train staff on health and safety protocols for the public in your salon
  • Appoint a first aider and have an easily accessed and well-stocked First Aid kit
  • Keep equipment safe for clients – check seats, cutting stations, washbasins, shelves etc.
  • Make sure staff have the right qualifications to carry out the treatments/services on clients – obtain references

Allergy patch tests if you are applying dye or using any form of chemicals

One of the main concerns will be a customer getting an allergic reaction following a colour application. Always conduct an allergy patch test and keep confidential records. Under GDPR regulations, you will need the client’s permission. It’s important to remember that permanent hair colour, including lash and brow tints, cannot be applied to anyone under the age of 16 and you must not carry out an allergy test either.

General good practice to keep the public safe in your salon or barbershop

  • Wipe down chairs with disinfectant
  • Wash towels regularly and dry straightaway (germs can linger on damp towels)
  • Ensure a good ventilation system
  • Clean up immediately after any spills and sweep clippings away
  • Do not create trip hazards with loose wires

COVID-19 and keeping customers safe in your salon or barbershop

The pandemic has meant that hairdressers and barbershops have had to be even more thorough regarding cleaning and sanitising equipment and frequently touched areas in order to keep customers safe. A COVID-19 specific risk assessment will need to be carried out to determine any extra safety protocols that will have to followed and carried out. When permitted to open, you will need to determine the maximum number of clients that can safely be in the salon at any given time in order to follow social distancing guidelines. As an owner, you will not be able to offer any refreshments or magazines.

Bookings should be by appointment only and customers should be asked before their visit about the possibility of having contracted coronavirus. You will also need to take details so a temporary record can be kept to assist Test and Trace. Clients need to wear a mask at all times unless they have a medical exemption. The COVID-19 pandemic is a rapidly evolving situation and it is important that you are aware of the latest Government guidance regarding salons and barbershops at all times.

General safety adhering to COVID-19 regulations

  • Ensure your salon space adheres to social distancing regulations – maximum number of clients
  • Client chairs should be well-spaced
  • Clean all surfaces with the appropriate sanitiser between appointments
  • Disinfect equipment before and after every service/appointment
  • Use gowns and towels once only
  • Provide as much ventilation as possible
  • Ensure all your staff are equipped with full PPE including masks, visors, gloves, aprons etc.

Does The Retail Mutual offer Public Liability insurance for your salon or barbershop?

Barbershops, hairdressers and salons are full of potential hazards for customers and visitors. It’s vital to assess the risks to the public and take as many precautions as possible to keep everyone safe. A claim from a customer can be very expensive so make sure you are covered in the event this scenario arises. It is usual for salon hairdressers and barbershop owners to take out Public Liability Insurance or similar protection for their business. The Retail Mutual offers an alternative to insurance with Public Liability included as part of its Business cover plans. Call 0333 2121 280 to discuss your options or click here to start your quote.

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