Suggested Workplace and Safety Prevention Recommendations for Your Studio

Are you a Tattooer, Piercer, Studio Owner or Studio Employee?

We want your input!

This is a time where we need to stand together. We need to share information across Canada and prevent COVID-19 from interrupting our lives more than it already has. We encourage you to read the following information and kindly send us your feedback.

Progressive Mentorship is currently in the process of building an online, educational video series for studio owners and employees across Canada. We’re requesting information from all Body Art practitioners across Canada about best practices moving forward in the Body Art community. You can participate by emailing us your insight or information shared within your province to the following address: [email protected]

Progressive Mentorship is a Canadian-based educational company focused on providing relevant, industry specific training for the Body Art community across Canada. Both Efix Roy of Quebec City and Jesse Villemaire of Ontario have been providing live seminars focusing on industry specific Bloodborne Pathogens & Infection Prevention and Control training since 2014. There’s always something new to learn and we aim to provide a supportive community for practitioners from varied backgrounds to grow.

We all have a part to play when it comes to providing a safe environment for our staff and our clients. We realize this is an ever-changing situation and we’ll do our best to monitor the recommended protocols and update the information when needed. It’s important to know and to research your own local guidelines and regulations. Some important links can be found at the end of this page. 

The body art community provides a service that is intimate and it’s for this reason that it’s paramount that everyone within your studio follows new protocols. These are challenging times and no one likes being told how to operate their business differently. No one has experienced this path before, and we’re not going to pretend that we know all the answers moving one does. Change can be challenging and we understand this and we can only hope that you and your team move forward in a positive direction and embrace the new hardships until this pandemic has passed.

It’s time to sit down as a team, as a family and learn how to navigate our way forward. We encourage you to build upon existing studio protocols that you already have in place and learn to grow in a safer direction. The last thing we need is to start seeing COVID-19 outbreaks within the tattoo and piercing community. We all want this disease to go away, but we all must do our part and that means learning how to live alongside it in the meantime. 

During this time we encourage you to start researching numerous resources online, speaking with your local health officials and start compiling/sharing your own research with others. We’re all looking for guidance and unfortunately it’s not clear for anyone at this point. We’re seeing numerous debates around the world on what is acceptable, and what is not. We believe that many new suggested protocols will be shared throughout 2020, and we all need to sift through what works, and what doesn’t. 

The information gathered below is compiled from numerous, reputable sources including; the World Health Organization, Health Canada, Ontario Ministry of Health, Public Health Ontario, Workplace Safety and Prevention Services, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Association of Professional Piercers and also from practitioners that have been within the industry for decades.

*Disclaimer - These recommendations are intended to be taken as suggestions for you and your staff to discuss within your own environment. We realize that everyones situation may look different and it’s important to decipher what works and what doesn’t. Some of the following suggestions may become requirements in your Province, and some may not. It’ll be up to each studio to follow the recommended guidelines in their area. If no guidelines are provided in your area, or are very vague, it’s still up to you to provide a safe environment for you and your clients. We hope the following guidelines may increase your level of awareness while providing your services once again. 

Pandemic Response Suggested Studio Protocols

What is your new client experience going to look like? 

1. Can you provide clients with important safety information before they arrive (i.e. by phone confirmations or by email)? Can you add safety information to your website or social media pages?

2. Can you implement an “appointment only” policy? 

3. Place signage on the front door and throughout the studio, providing your new guidelines. Signs should be displayed in common areas, work stations and bathrooms. Signs should also include proper safety etiquette while visiting your establishment, such as wearing a mask, proper coughing etiquette, performing proper hand hygiene, no touch greetings (handshakes/hugs) and keeping a safe distance from others. 

4. Can tasks be minimized or eliminated? For example, can payment be cashless, by debit, credit or e-transfer? Or, if cash is handled, PPE (gloves) can be worn and proper hand hygiene performed afterwards. 

5. Can you place barriers between yourself and people at the front counter?

6. Consider virtual consultations and troubleshooting through video conferencing or phone calls with clientele. 

7. Is it possible to create an online waiver that the client can fill out prior to their appointment?

8. Remove books, magazines, portfolios that cannot be properly disinfected. Remove furniture that isn’t wipeable or easily disinfected.

9. Can fresh air circulation in your studio be improved without compromising the cleanliness of providing your client a clean tattoo or piercing?

10. Can you control the number of people you interact with at one time? Physical distancing (staying 2 metres away from others) requires fewer people within an enclosed space. Consider floor markings to show distance to be kept apart, flow of people or limiting numbers of people admitted to only a few at a time.

11. Increase cleaning frequency – on commonly touched surfaces like PIN pads, door knobs, light switches, cash drawers, countertops, tablets, pens, bathrooms etc. Be sure to follow safe practices regarding cleaning times and cleaning agents. Follow manufacture instructions on the products you use.

12. Be sure to keep up with good hand washing protocols and avoid touching your face. Hand sanitizer should be available at common areas within your studio. This also includes providing hand washing facilities or hand sanitizer to all clients entering your premises. Review with your staff the proper methods of washing your hands and using hand sanitizer.

13. Refusing to work on clients that display COVID-19 symptoms such as fever, cough, difficulty breathing, loss of sense of taste or smell. Ask clients of their recent travel history within the past two weeks and determine whether they pose an added risk to your work environment.

14. Refusing to allow your staff to work with COVID-19 symptoms such as fever, cough, difficulty breathing, loss of sense of taste or smell.

15. Asking staff to self monitor for symptoms daily before attending work.

16. Facial piercings such as oral and nostril piercings should be advised against at this time due to coming in close contact with uncovered mucous membranes. 

17. Develop and agree to a response plan in case someone in the work place becomes ill with symptoms of COVID-19. This plan should include at least: a) Identify a room or area where someone who is feeling unwell or has symptoms can be safely isolated. b) Have a plan for how they can be safely transferred from the studio to a health facility.

18. Keep up to date with best practices in your city and province. Consider regular times to check in with public health updates and retrain/revise practices as needed.

19. Research and display your local resources to Mental Health professionals. Include phone numbers and websites for employees to reach out for help if needed.

Suggested Work Area Protocols

Do you work in an open concept studio? Or do you operate in closed, individual rooms? 

These are two common set ups in tattoo studios and it’s going to take some creative thinking on how to operate with new limitations.

1. Put distance between tattoo artists. Avoid having multiple workers doing the same task within a small space. Consider spreading out tattoo work stations to allow 6 feet between work areas. In smaller studios this might be difficult, however a suggestion would be offering multiple shifts throughout the day, rotating artists work schedules.

2. Mark the floors with tape to create a visual distancing barrier.

3. Clients should be leaving their friends and family at home in order to limit the amount of people in your personal work space while getting tattooed or pierced, unless working on a minor (such as ear piercing) 

4. Review your workstations as a team and brainstorm how to create a safer workflow for everyone. Maybe you can you add plexiglass barriers between workstations? Can you create more private working areas? Discussion with your whole staff is imperative and it’s easier to implement change when everyone is involved.

Suggested PPE Protocols

What is PPE? Personal Protective Equipment is commonly referred to as "PPE" and within the Body Art industry it is known as equipment worn to help minimize the risk of exposure to bloodborne pathogens or other potentially infectious materials. It’s important to note that PPE does not entirely eliminate the risk of exposure and proper training must be conducted with each staff member. 

Employers are required to train each worker on how to use personal protective equipment and how to know:

1. When it is necessary?

2. What kind of PPE is necessary for the task?

3. How to properly put it on, adjust, wear and take it off?

4. The limitations of the equipment.

5. Proper disposal of the equipment

Within the Body Art industry it is common practice to use “disposable” personal protective equipment, such as gloves, aprons, sleeves and masks. Depending on the task at hand, the wearing of certain PPE may vary. 

The proper use of PPE has always been important and luckily many are trained on how to properly put on and remove PPE (also known as donning or doffing). Now that many workplaces throughout the world are going to be implementing new policies and procedures within their businesses, it may become more difficult to source the PPE your studio requires to provide a safe service. 

Please review your stock levels within your studio and order the properly fitted, disposable PPE for all staff members. It’s the studio owners responsibility to provide a safe working environment for their staff members and this includes providing properly fitted PPE for all workers. It’s imperative to know the risks you put yourself and your clients in without the use of proper PPE.

1. Before a client arrives, can you provide them with instructions on how to follow your recommended guidelines? Consider asking them to bring their own mask, otherwise a disposable mask will be provided for them for free, or for a small fee? 

2. All employees will be trained and documented on how to properly wear and dispose PPE. Proper hand hygiene must be implemented immediately after removing PPE. 

3. Face and eye protection should be worn to protect mucous membranes. Mucus membranes are your eyes, nose and mouth, and due to possibly being exposed to potentially infective respiratory droplets, more extensive PPE guidelines should be implemented until further guidance and information is gathered.

4. If reusable face shields will be used, each employee must implement proper disinfection protocols immediately after wearing their face shield and stored in a clean area, preferably in a covered area such as a clean drawer. It is suggested that each employee is responsible for the safe keeping and cleaning of their face shields and sharing is highly discouraged. Disinfection of the shield should be implemented once again before donning.

5. All staff and employers should update their PPE studios policies and procedures for each task performed within the studio, including front counter interactions, tattooing and piercing, and cleaning/disinfecting your studio. Staff should be aware of these changes and adequate training should be provided. 

6. Be aware of your PPE at all times. Is it properly fit? Is it damaged or compromised? Take your time putting on and removing to help prevent PPE damage or cross contamination. 

7. Be aware of your surroundings and know what PPE is required for the task you’re performing. 

8. Don’t touch your face. Never adjust your face mask while wearing contaminated PPE. Immediately wash your hands or use hand sanitizer immediately after removing your PPE.

9. Is your staff up to date with Industry Specific Infection Prevention and Bloodborne Pathogens training? 

What About Masks?

Masks have two potential functions. They may protect the wearer of the mask from exposure, or protect individuals from exposure to respiratory aerosols/droplets from the mask wearer.

According to Health Canada, medical masks, including surgical, medical procedure face masks and respirators (like N95 masks), must be kept for healthcare workers and others providing direct care to COVID-19 patients.

Given the challenges in maintaining personal protective equipment supply during the COVID-19 pandemic, the use of homemade and/or cloth masks in public is a topic of much discussion. The CDC now recommends that the general public wear cloth face coverings in public settings where physical distancing measures are difficult to maintain. However, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) has suggested that homemade masks be used with caution as there is variability in the effectiveness of homemade masks. The evidence suggests there is variability in the effectiveness of cotton masks and that they are generally inferior to medical masks.

As we have yet to hear the protocols set forth by Public Health for Personal Service Setting operators (tattooing and piercing) when in close contact with a client, it’s important to research the masks available for the task at hand. For example, working as an employee at the front counter, behind a barrier, poses less risk than tattooing or piercing a client in close contact. 

If you are using a cloth mask, Health Canada recommends washing it on a hot cycle and drying thoroughly. When worn properly, a person wearing a non-medical mask or face covering can reduce the spread of his or her own infectious respiratory droplets.

Non-medical face masks or face coverings should:

1. Allow for easy breathing

2. Fit securely to the head with ties or ear loops

3. Maintain their shape after washing and drying

4. Be changed as soon as possible if damp or dirty

5. Be comfortable and not require frequent adjustment

6. Be made of at least 2 layers of tightly woven material fabric (such as cotton or linen)

7. Be large enough to completely and comfortably cover the nose and mouth without gaping

In our opinion, wearing a N95 mask would be the best option for body art practitioners, only if a surplus of N95 masks becomes available across Canada. Second choice would be surgical masks, only if appropriate supplies become available across Canada. Third choice would be a cloth/home made mask. We also predict the challenge of finding N95 or surgical masks during this pandemic. It’s important to realize the impact it may have on the front line workers that depend on this PPE as a priority, if everyone starts purchasing from the same inventory. 

We’ll be sure to update our website when further guidance becomes available from Health Canada regarding the safe practices within the body art community. Until then we hope this gathered information will provide some further insight. 

Mask Resources

Additional Resources

Progressive Mentorship is currently in the process of bringing you our Industry Specific Infection Prevention and Bloodborne Pathogens training online. We look forward to bringing you this information in a more convenient platform. Please visit our website and join our email newsletter to be informed when the seminars are ready.

We encourage you to view the following links below for further information and guidance. We personally like how the Association of Professional Piercers have developed what they call a “CDP - Clean, Distance, Protect” approach and their link below will bring you to their recommended Response and Recovery Interim Protocols. They have even provided an example release form that you may wish to adopt into your studios workflow. 

Association of Professional Piercers (APP)

World Health Organization (WHO)

Health Canada

Ontario Ministry of Health

Public Health Ontario

Center for Disease Control and Prevention

Workplace Safety and Prevention Services

Ontario Workplace Safety Guidelines during COVID-19 outbreak.

Ontario Pandemic Recovery Return to Business Checklist

Manitoba Phase 1 - Restoring Safe Services Plan

You can participate by emailing us your insight or information shared within your province to the following address: [email protected]

*Disclaimer - These recommendations are intended to be taken as suggestions for you and your staff to discuss within your own environment. We realize that everyones situation may look different and it’s important to decipher what works and what doesn’t. Some of the following suggestions may become requirements in your Province, and some may not. It’ll be up to each studio to follow the recommended guidelines in their area. If no guidelines are provided in your area, or are very vague, it’s still up to you to provide a safe environment for you and your clients. We hope the following guidelines may increase your level of awareness while providing your services once again. 

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