October 2012

LeAnne Velona

The Beauty Professional| by Fred Jones


Break Out the Red Tape and Hang Some Posters

This article is not meant to frighten salon owners. If it does, please don't blame me; I'm just the messenger, here.

The purpose of this column is to inform and direct beauty business owners to become compliant with government mandated disclosures and thereby avoid potentially costly fines.

I have been assisted by my friend, Jeff Pulford, of insurebeauty.com, in helping me organize and research the many disclosure requirements mandated upon salon businesses, so I wanted to publicly thank him for his expert counsel.

As every establishment owner is hopefully aware, salons must adhere to their State Board of Cosmetology health and safety rules; these state-established regulations primarily focus on disinfection protocols and related consumer protection standards, and they're typically enforced by state inspectors. State Board licenses must be prominently displayed in all establishments.

For salons with employees and applicable booth renters, they must carry Worker Compensation insurance. There are very specific state laws dictating who must be covered and the extent of such coverage, as well as prominently posted notices describing the rights of injured workers. State agencies, as well as insurance companies responsible for paying all such claims, have the authority to ensure compliance.

Required postings and notices don't stop there. There are a multitude of local, state and federal agencies that have imposed disclosure requirements, particularly on businesses in which employees and contractors are performing personal services upon patrons. In California, we have compiled a list of 19 such required postings! Some relate to human resources concerns, others with occupational safety, while others with workers' rights.

Are you (the salon owners reading this article) aware that you could be fined hundreds of dollars for each mandated poster missing from the walls of your break room, workstations and reception areas? And do you know that ignorance of any required notice is no defense for such monetary sanctions?

Beauty salons are "low hanging fruit" for enforcement officials inspecting for disclosure compliance, and their inspections simply require an audit of your salon walls. They are open-and-shut cases; either the required posters are displayed or they're not.

I don't know what color tape a salon owner may choose to use to hang all such mandated posters, but this is a prime example of the kind of "red tape" typical of government oversight. There's no sense ignoring these requirements, especially given the potential cost of a compliance inspection; one simply needs to learn what notices are applicable to your salon and get them posted ASAP.

Fortunately, there are many online resources available to salon owners to help them determine what posters they need, and some even offer limited help for free (typically government sites). A good example of this is the US Department of Labor site: http://www.dol.gov/elaws/posters.htm

At DOL's site, you will be directed by their online "Poster Advisor" who will walk you through a series of online questions to help determine what federally-mandated posters your salon needs. You will want to begin under the "Services" category since that is where salons fall.

But the DOL site is mostly limited to employee-based establishments, and only covers federal notice requirements. And while they do provide links to your state labor departments for their individual, notification mandates, those also do not cover additional requirements that you may be subjected to from other government agencies.

Therefore, you may want to consider some "for-profit" sites who offer complete packages of all the relevant disclosure posters -- for fairly minor fees (usually under $100). Additionally, the more reputable amongst this budding cottage industry of poster compliance service companies will assume all liability for the accuracy of the information contained in their pre-printed posters, relieving you of the worry that you haven't adequately covered all of your display requirements.

Finally, distributors often are willing to provide you with a lot of necessary posters. Their representatives are also required to provide and review MSDS worksheets for all of their chemical-based products.

All of these display requirements may seem mind-numbing and petty, but each one has a distinct purpose and a well-intentioned history. Each of the mandated notifications carry the weight of law and the cost of fines for non-compliance. So if you haven't yet, or if it has been a number of years since your last review, it's time for you to get up-to-date posters and break out the red (or whatever color you choose) tape to hang them all.

Fred Jones serves as Legal Counsel to the Professional Beauty Federation of California, a trade association singularly dedicated to raising the professionalism of the beauty industry. To learn more about the PBFC and receive further details about the subjects contained in his column, go to www.beautyfederation.org.