It might be less physical than construction or less perilous than firefighting but hairdressing comes with its own set of physical challenges. Various research into occupational injuries shows that as many as 70 per cent of stylists suffer chronic pain during their career, with some forced to abandon a career they love passionately.
Yet, again and again, salon owners create fabulous, gorgeous salons without giving ergonomics – the workability of the space –much thought. So the lights add that final stunning touch, but do they provide the team with enough illumination to do their job adequately? The client journey ensures every customer walking through the salon picks up at least one product, but are those obstacles endangering your employees as they move quickly from A to B?
Ergonomics should be central to every good salon from inception, and should inform every addition and refurbishment thereafter. Nothing must be left to chance, with everything from selection of the chairs through to salon procedures scrutinized for workability.
Chairs: Stylists come in all sizes so salons must ensure each one has a chair suitable for his or her height. Check the hydraulic range to guarantee it is wide enough or purchase additional chairs for the shortest or tallest stylists. Make sure every stylist adjusts the seat to suit them rather than the client – this will lessen to tendency to bend the neck, which can cause severe and long-term pain.
Saddle stools: These should be available so stylists can sit briefly even while on the salon floor. The consultation provides an ideal opportunity to take the weight off their legs and back, as it also puts the stylist on the same eye-level as clients. It’s win/win.
Move and often: Encourage your team to walk about or to stretch when in the private areas of the salon. Movement is essential to keep muscles from stiffening. Look at alternating tasks so staff can break repetition. Consider organising exercise sessions where you can also talk about how to avoid injury. And don’t forget to make a point of encouraging sensible footwear at all times.
Equipment: Consider the weight and bulkiness of tools as well as their robustness and power. Too heavy and they will lead to problems.
Gloves: Institute a no-gloves, no-touch policy around your technical area. Dermatitis is a massive problem in hairdressing.
Trolleys: Make them available at all times so stylists don’t have to stretch to reach for their tools or tint, or keep walking around the chair to get an item.
Flooring: Hard flooring is a killer for people on their feet all day. Polished cement might look cool and be hard-wearing but it would be a nightmare for your team so aim for something with a bit of give as well as longevity.
Ventilation: Over recent years new technical services have made it even more imperative that salons have good ventilation. We want to be able to offer a diverse range of treatments but not at the expense of our employees’ health.
I could go on and on, but you get the general idea. Yes, absolutely, consider form when designing your salon, but never at the expense of function.