Key messages

  • Infection prevention and control is important so that you do not transmit a disease or infection to yourself or your clients.
  • Infections result from cross-contamination, which happens when the equipment you use and the premises you work at are not kept clean and/or sterile.
  • It is your responsibility to ensure that your clients and your colleagues are safe from infection.
  • The cost of having good infection control practices is small compared with the cost of infecting someone.

Personal care and body art businesses need to follow certain infection prevention and control requirements.

Anyone working in such a business should download the full Health guidelines for personal care and body art industries and be familiar with its contents. The main points are summarised on this page.

Infection prevention and control, and its importance

Personal care and body art businesses should supply professional, competent, safe and hygienic practices in clean premises. Unsafe or unhygienic practices can lead to the spread of infectious diseases, which can affect the health of the client and of the operator.

Viruses such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV can spread by blood-to-blood contact. Therefore, staff need to know the precautions required for any procedure that may involve skin penetration and possible blood contamination.

Pprocedures that do not involve skin penetration may spread infections such as:

  • staphylococcal infections – for example, impetigo
  • wart and herpes viruses
  • fungal infections – for example, tinea.

Infection prevention and control – basic requirements

Legislative requirements for personal care and body art businesses include:

  • The premises must be kept clean.
  • Any article used for penetrating the skin must be sterile at the time of use.
  • Any article that has penetrated the skin or is contaminated with blood or body fluids/substances must be disposed of immediately after use, or cleaned and sterilised before being used on another person.
  • Any other used article must be cleaned before being used on another person.
  • Operators must keep themselves and their clothing clean, and have no exposed cuts, abrasions or wounds.
  • Proprietors must provide written health information to each client about the potential health risks associated with skin penetration procedures.

Infections – how they occur

Instruments that penetrate the skin become contaminated with blood, or with body fluids or substances.

Infection may then occur when:

  • strict operator hygiene is not observed
  • operators share the same equipment or materials
  • used and clean instruments come into contact with one another
  • clean instruments are placed on unclean surfaces
  • sterile instruments are placed on unsterile surfaces or come into contact with unsterile instruments
  • contaminated dressings, spatulas and single-use gloves are not disposed of immediately and appropriately after use
  • the structural facilities, furnishings and fittings of the premises cannot be, or are not, adequately cleaned between clients
  • towels and other articles used on clients are not changed or thoroughly cleaned between clients.
  • contaminated instruments are not effectively cleaned and sterilised before use on another person
  • single-use instruments are not discarded immediately after use.

Contact between blood and contaminated instruments, and then with open cuts, sores or broken skin, can also lead to infection. Both you and your client could become infected.

Remember that blood does not have to be visible on an instrument or needle for infection to be transmitted.

Contamination

Contamination is the spread of microorganisms from one item to another. Contamination can occur when:

The guidelines also refer to single-use items. Any item marked by its manufacturer as being for single-use must not be cleaned and sterilised for reuse on the same client at another time or on any other client.

Benefits of compliance with these guidelines

Businesses have a legal responsibility to provide a safe service. A risk management approach enables them to take all reasonable precautions.

Identifying potential hazards and managing them reduces the likelihood of untoward incidents. Further, the provision of a consistent quality service improves both business reputation and client loyalty.

The cost of making equipment safe is small compared with the cost of infecting yourself or a client.

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