Objective: To examine current knowledge and practice of occupational health and safety (OH&S) regarding hepatitis C in beauty therapy practice.
Methods: A questionnaire was sent to all beauty therapy practices identified through the Telstra Yellow Pages and distributed via beauty therapy product agencies.
Results: 119 questionnaires were completed by employers and employees in 99 beauty therapy practices in metropolitan Adelaide. Beauty therapists reported carrying out many practices that had exposed them to blood in the past. More than 80% of the procedures carried out by beauty therapists in the previous week were reported to have led to exposure to blood. 39.5% of respondents had not received information about OH&S practices related to blood spills and 77.5% of respondents had received no OH&S information about hepatitis C. Knowledge of hepatitis C and its transmission was poor, with 62% of respondents incorrectly identifying the prevalence of hepatitis C and respondents incorrectly identifying sneezing (28%), kissing (46%) and sharing coffee cups (42%) as a modes of transmission. 80% of beauty therapy practices had no OH&S representative.
Conclusion: Beauty therapy practice can expose both operator and client to blood and is therefore a potential site for the transmission of blood-borne diseases including hepatitis C. OH&S information is inadequate in this industry and knowledge of hepatitis C is poor.
Implications: Health promotion information about hepatitis C and OH&S practice to prevent transmission of blood-borne diseases is required.