Construction sites, industrial operations and warehouses are the places most Pennsylvania residents think of when considering dangerous occupations. Not many people would consider working in a hair or nail salon as a dangerous job, so they would probably be surprised to find out that it is. The risk of injury facing salon workers is significant and comes from a variety of sources.

Overuse and repetitive stress injuries are common in the beauty industry. Nail technicians spend a large amount of their time hunched over their clients’ hands and feet while doing manicures and pedicures, and this does not include doing acrylic or gel nails. Hairdressers can end up standing the majority of their day, which takes a toll on their backs. Cutting hair, perming hair and coloring hair also require repetitive motions that can lead to injuries such as carpal tunnel over time.

Salon workers also risk electrocution, along with slips and falls. However, there is another risk that could lead to serious occupational illness — chemical exposure. The chemicals in glues, nail polishes and other products used in nail and hair salons present substantial danger to workers. Some of the common chemicals found include formaldehyde, toluene and acetone. The health risks associated with these chemicals range from simple skin irritation to cancer.

Pennsylvania residents who work in hair or nail salons may already be aware of the dangers they face every time they go to work. They and their employers may do what they can to limit the risk of injury, but that does not mean accidents and chronic injuries never happen. When they do, salon workers may be able to apply for workers’ compensation benefits to cover their associated medical expenses, along with a portion of their income during recovery.