with Sam Blake (The Safer Salon Geek)
I have recently read a story about a family member putting UV gel enhancements (no, not a UV gel polish but full-on enhancements) on a 6 year old without parental knowledge nor consent!
What is the situation with this?
I am going to explain from the science viewpoint and my friend, Sam Blake, from the legal and safeguarding aspect.
Minors in the UK are 16 but some insurance policies insist on 18. There is the first red flag with this situation.
A child of that age (and quite a bit older) has a very undeveloped nail unit. The nail plates are soft and full of moisture, the nail bed is weak, the skin delicate and the matrix a long way from maturity.
- Those delicate nails cannot take the extra weight of an enhancement, adhesion will be poor and any form of buffing during the prep will thin an already thin nail plate.
- Any added length will put far too much leverage on the nail bed and down to the matrix. Even something as usual as scratching their head.
- Any accidental upward force can rip the nail plate off the nail bed! They are just not strong enough
- The leverage or accident can damage the development of the matrix temporarily or even permanently resulting in a deformed nail for life
- The overlay may not be properly cured! e.g., wrong UV lamp, too thick. This will result in uncured monomers within the overlay that can leach out when washing hands as they are water soluble. They will definitely be released during removal.
- The presence of uncured monomers is the beginning of a possible allergy that has many medical implications (dental and orthopaedic among others) If this happens with such an immature immune system if could be for life! Young children’s immune systems do develop over time and childhood sensitivities/allergies can go away. But this is by no means guaranteed and definitely not worth the risk
- With such tiny nails how much of the product got onto the skin??
- Then we come to removal! Those weak little nails cannot take the level of buffing required for removal. The chance of detaching the nail plate is high plus the movement in the nail plate can also damage the matrix. So, a soak off? Who would want a 6 year olds fingers soaking in acetone for 15-20 mins? It can be an irritant and far too strong for the delicate area.
These are all ‘worst case’ but, really, is it worth chancing!
This is just one side; now Sam will explain from another side:
The story Marian refers to is not only shocking, but unfortunately not surprising. Many businesses provide services to minors without fully understanding their legal, as well as ethical obligations. This situation with the 6 year old child has such a high risk level to go very wrong, legally, financially and reputation wise.
There are many questions a business should be asking itself even before creating a service menu and treating minors. Every business, whether solo or premises based, or mobile has a legal obligation to keep “people” as safe as is reasonable and possible to do, we have a “Duty of care.” This is detailed under the UK’s primary Health and Safety Law, The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. This applies to all, because put simply we provide services can cause others “harm,” be that injury, or allergy. Secondly are COSHH requirements (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health,) and duty to follow manufacturer’s instructions. These are devised along with products safety data in mind; safe use. These SDS, or sometimes referred to as MSDS documents state everything from the toxicology to safe disposal of a product.
Why am I telling you this? Because you should put yourself in breach of your insurance requirements and safety law of any of the above, but also reputation damage. Leaving yourself wide open to making yourself uninsured, and consequently, uninsurable in the future and by doing so personal injury claims (civil action) even prosecution if something went terribly wrong.
Before even providing a service to a minor these are points to consider, research and act upon.
- What are industry codes of ethics and practice on providing the service to the minor?
- Am I qualified and experienced enough to perform the service safely?
- Does my insurance cover me to treat minors, and secondly for the particular services I provide?
(At this point if the insurer doesn’t cover your, or industry bodies, associations or noted influencers and educators – it’s a no DO NOT PROVIDE the service.)
- If your covered, what are the insurers expectations regarding safe practice and procedures? Are there any specific clauses and/or caveats I need to consider in constructing my policies and protocols?
- A specific risk assessment then needs to be considered, and to show due diligence document this – write it down as it is best practice. Whether you are a business of five or more employees (therefore a legal requirement,) or not, how can you show you have considered all hazards and looked to, and are going to implement your controls without?
- Policies are the best way to document the how, why, what, when and where. These are your communication of expectations – of you and of your customer. A communicated policy in your customer journey, and web presence both social and website means you have told the client of the expectations and reasons, sometimes why you will not do XYZ. These also make up staff communication and training.
Duty of care steps into running an ethical business and can step over into safeguarding to. Just popping a bit of polish on because it’s a nice thing to do, but questioning yourself on the moral ethical and safeguarding side of providing service also needs discussion. Have you ever asked yourself does the person asking me to provide the service have Parental Responsibility? This is a legal status term and comes into parental set up and responsibilities in divorce, and in the case of unmarried parents and separation. The Mother has automatic Parental Responsibility. Why mention this? Because as a business owner morals and ethics should come into how you serve all of your customers. Let me give you an example of my personal experience of this situation.
I ran a girls pamper party company for seven years and came across several situations where I my safeguarding and ethos policies came in very handy! Rather than finding myself firefighting negativity they helped me deliver exceptional customer service and care. One situation comes to mind. The “Don’t Sexualise my child parent.” Mum and child lived together, and Mum organised a makeover party. Dad no longer lived with the child but had parental responsibility rights and did not wish for the child to be “sexualised” and “overdone” (not what my brand was about anyway, but I totally understood his point of view – he thought it was all pageant princess.) Having been contacted independently by Dad I forwarded my businesses ethics, policies, and asked him some questions about what he expected, and would not be happy with – what his boundaries were within the party plan. I ended up with two glowing reviews. Because he could see I had considered his opinion, within his rights, as well as the mothers, all parties were happy customers. It could have been a totally different outcome. I could have found myself firefighting an angry parent and aiming for damage limitation with the business reputation.
In the case of the six year old, the Grandparent has no legal “Parental Responsibility” rights, so should not have been allowed to even book the service for the child without parental or guardianship consent.
I can hear you – your worried about offending clients who ask for XYZ. Don’t get to the point of conversation, even with Mrs Smith the gold star regular! By considering your legal and ethical duties, creating, implementing, and then providing your policy to your customers you negate the need to even have the conservation in depth! Include information in your Q&A on your website. Send info as part of an enquiry, and ask one question, and one question only in dialogue “Do you have parental responsibility or guardianship over Molly, Polly or Dave? “Detail in your specific booking policy for minors states your position and you do not need to explain yourself further. And for the client who does not respect or understand your professionalism – they are not the client for your business anyway.