The Asian Law Caucus launched a nail salon project as part of a worker health and safety program led by Lenh Tsan. The project’s objectives go hand in hand with recent awareness about dangerous chemicals in many cosmetics, and the 2007 passage of the California Safe Cosmetics Act.
Tsan’s worker health training program includes sessions on ergonomics, infectious diseases, chemicals and ventilation, and an introduction to the law called “know your rights.”
Nail salon and cosmetology workers handle solvents, chemical solutions and glues on a daily basis, yet little research has been conducted on the chronic health effects of such exposures. There is also a dearth of culturally and linguistically appropriate educational materials (80% of nail salon workers in California are Vietnamese) to build awareness about environmental exposures and help workers and salon owners implement safety precautions.
In her visits to Bay Area nail salons, Tsan meets workers who suffer from breathing problems and skin rashes because of daily exposure to chemicals.
Besides being exposed to chemicals, salon workers often work six days a week, and long hours of hunching over doing meticulous work can result in back problems and repetitive motion injuries.