Author(s): Mphaga, K.V, Rathebe, P.C, Utembe, W.

Source: Occupational Health Southern Afr. 2023; 29(2):75-82.


Introduction: Hairdressers are exposed to hazardous chemicals in haircare products, which can cause adverse respiratory, skin, and reproductive effects. The incidence of these effects can be reduced with good occupational health and safety (OHS) knowledge, attitudes, and practices (KAP).

Objective: The objective of the study was to assess Johannesburg hairdressers’ knowledge, attitudes, and practices towards occupational health and safety.

Methods: Three hundred and eighty-three hairdressers were recruited into this cross-sectional study. They were categorised into employees/wage earners (earning a salary or wage, n = 151), or business owners (self-employed, n = 232). Data were collected using an interviewer-administered questionnaire. The data were analysed using Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) version 26. Frequency tables were generated and chi-square tests were used to test differences between KAP amongst business owners and wage earners.

Results: Most of the study participant were female (n = 237, 61.9%). A higher proportion of business owners than wage earners knew that hairdressing was hazardous to their health, in general (n = 44, 29.1% and n = 120, 51.7%, respectively), and with regard to specific health risks such as asthma, cancer, and skin diseases. However, more of the wage earners than the business owners had good attitudes towards the wearing of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves, (n = 143, 94.7% and n = 210, 90.5%, respectively). Overall, wage earners practised better OHS than business owners, e.g. 67.5% (n = 102) and 55.2% (n = 128) reported that they wore gloves, respectively.

Conclusion: Wage earners had poorer OHS knowledge than those who owned or operated hairdressing salons. Both had good attitudes towards OHS, but self-employed hairdressers had poorer OHS practices. Training, including workshops and seminars, is needed to improve KAP regarding OHS amongst all hairdressers, regardless of their employment status.

Keywords: hair products; chemical hazards; PPE; hairdressing