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Fighting for Nail Salon Workers

NYCOSH co-founded the New York Healthy Nail Salons Coalition (NYHNSC) in 2014 along with current and former nail salon workers and Adhikaar. The NY NJ Regional Joint Board, Workers United, joined the Coalition in 2015, developing an innovative worker-led organizing strategy in collaboration with the coalition. Through coalition building, testimony to public officials, advocacy, and building public support, New York passed historic legislation in 2015 to establish a new training and licensing program, a wage bond requirement to protect workers from wage theft, and increased enforcement of all worker protections. In 2016, New York established the strongest ventilation regulations in the country to protect nail salon workers, owners, and clients. Currently, NYCOSH and its partners are training hundreds of workers to obtain licenses, building worker leadership, and organizing to ensure that worker rights are respected.

  • Thousands of nail salon workers in an estimated 6,000 nail salons in the State of New York —mostly Latina and Asian immigrant women—have been exposed to dangerous health hazards on the job and economic exploitation, sometimes earning as little as $35 per day; cases of wage theft are all too common.
  • More than 500 nail salon workers have participated in NYCOSH 2 hour trainings on health and safety. Over 125 have completed our 26 hour nail salon training, a step towards full licensure.
  • 5242 workers – mostly immigrant women – have been able to obtain a Nail Trainee license due to the new state program (according to the NYS database)

In the News:

Follow and reach us on Facebook or Twitter with the hashtag #NYHealthyNailSalons – for media inquiries contact Mónica Novoa at mnovoa@nycosh.org.

For more on NYCOSH’s New York Nail Salon Worker School visit bit.ly/nycoshschool

To get training on the specific hazards beauty workers face, contact NYCOSH at (212) 227-6440 or nycosh@nycosh.org.

Background

There are over 375,000 nail salon workers across the United States, who are exposed to dangerous health hazards like glues, polishes, removers, and other products; and also risk infections from contact with clients’ skin, nails, or blood.

Nail polishes and other nail products commonly contain what’s nicknamed the “toxic trio” of formaldehyde, dibutyl phthalate and toluene, which can have serious health ramifications when inhaled regularly without proper ventilation. Formaldehyde has been labeled a carcinogen by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, dibutyl phthalate has been linked to birth defects, and toluene has been shown to damage both the reproductive and nervous systems.

The “toxic trio” is just the tip of the iceberg; there are dozens of other toxins in nail salons that are dangerous to both workers and consumers alike and can cause headaches, asthma, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and more. Using less toxic chemicals, keeping the workplace well-ventilated, properly sterilizing tools, and wearing personal protective equipment,  are just some of the ways workplaces can be made healthier.

Your Rights

If you feel like you are not well protected from the hazards at your beauty salon, you have a legal right to a safer workplace. You are entitled to training as well as the proper safety equipment for any dangerous tools being used on the job. If you’d like to get involved in fighting for your rights, join NYCOSH in advocating for heathy salons!

Join Us!

  • To join NYCOSH’s campaign advocating for healthy salons, get in touch!
  • If you’re a worker or represent workers looking for training on nail salon safety, contact NYCOSH at (212) 227-6440 or nycosh[at]nycosh.org

NYCOSH Fact Sheet

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