Here’s how you can plan and create a healthier, ergonomic salon without having to undergo major renovations.
Close to 75 per cent of stylists suffer from musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). Repetitive movement is to blame, of course. But could hardware and furniture also play a role in contributing to these ailments?
Among hairstylists and colourists, MSDs mainly affect hands, fingers, shoulders, necks and backs. In order to help reduce joint stress, salon-industry-specific furniture and hardware manufacturers have upped their game and now offer a range of ergonomically designed products.
“As far as keeping ergonomic features in mind, many salon owners are unaware that there’s a better solution when they are designing or redesigning their salons,” says Sandra Fiore, director of design and development for Fiore + Greco Design in Vaughan, Ont. “When I explain the options they have, such as side and back wash units, they definitely want these features in their salon.”
When shopping for your salon, look for adjustable chairs, stools and seats, lightweight hair dryers and brushes with silicone handles for better grip. And if you’re really brave and ready to change your haircutting technique, opt for innovative shears that diminish the risk of carpal tunnel syndrome on wrists. Here’s what you need to know when choosing your implements and designing your salon.
Keeping Wellness in Mind with Your Sink-Side Design Strategy
Is it better to wash hair from the side or from the back of the sink bowl? Many stylists say that it’s more comfortable to wash the client’s hair from the back rather than at the side because that position forces you to twist your body and is harder on your back. Along with choosing the type of washing station, Fiore says that some stations actually have chairs with an adjustable height option, making it possible for hairstylists to even sit down when they are at the sink.
The ideal space between the backwash basins is a minimum centreline of 32 inches between the shampoo bowls so that there is enough space for elbow room. As for sidewash basins, the minimum centreline between bowls is 42 inches to allow space in washing from the side.
What Is the Best Salon Flooring for Better Health?
Choosing the right type of salon flooring is key to keeping hairstylists comfortable. “Flooring is a very difficult subject,” says Fiore. “Some comfortable flooring isn’t stain or water resistant, and that’s a problem for salons.” While most salons have ceramic-tiled flooring, Fiore recommends using ceramic at the washing stations, where water resistance is a must, and using laminate, which helps reduce the impact of standing, throughout the rest of the salon.
HOT TIP: Fiore also reminds salon owners that new building code regulations are mandating exhaust fans in the colour area to ensure better air quality in this area of the salon.
Expert Advice: A Quick Q&A on Ergonomic Design
Isabelle Lessard, Hair Salon & Spa Designer at Lanvain, shares her best advice on how to create an ergonomic and productive space.
Salon Magazine: What are the components of an ergonomic work station in the salon? What details are the most important?
Isabelle Lessard: The most important aspect to consider is the height at which hot tools and other tools are placed (mainly the hair dryer, the flat iron and curling iron), which is between 34 and 36 inches from the floor. Also, the mirror must be high enough so that the stylist can see the client’s face when cutting or styling behind the chair.
SM: How much space should be allotted between every stylist?
IL: Fifty-four inches from centre to centre between each work station.
SM: What are the most important features when shopping for a cut and styling chair?
IL: The cylinder must be at the correct height for the stylist. Remember salon chairs come equipped with either a short, standard or high cylinder.
SM: What are the benefits of working on a rolling swivel stool?
IL: Less leg and feet aches after a very long day in the salon.
Top Tool Picks with Ergonomic Design in Mind
Swap out your tools and minimize stress on your wrists and hands with these health-conscious options.
Images: Babylisspro, Pivot Point