Avoid your Salon Being Sued with these Easy Measurements
Happy customers are the key to a successful business, but you must always be prepared for the worst. Feathers Salon Group’s managing director Debbie Digby lists the five measures you should put in place today to avoid your salon being sued.
1) Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions
Your insurance company will ask for the instructions on all of the products used if something goes wrong. If you haven’t carried out a duty of care to your clients you could be in breach of your insurance terms, which means you would need to pay for your own defense and for the client’s compensation.
Common accusations might include:
• No skin test
• No strand test
• No incompatibility test
• Product left to process for too long
• Wrongly applied heat
• Incorrect technique
2) Document everything
Make simple word and diagram notations to prove you carefully considered your client’s service before carrying it out. Keep records of training, practices and procedures, including:
• Colour notes
• Chemical services notes
• Client consultations
• Health and safety training
• First aid and accidents book
The notations in your appointment book can be used as records so don’t forget to list ‘training’ in the schedule to show you are updating skills and knowledge in the salon as opposed to listing it as a ‘team meeting’.
3) Be aware of comfort and safety
You are responsible for everyone when they are on your premises. Beauty Parlour Syndrome is a common term for the medical condition that can be caused from having hair washed at a washbasin in a salon. One salon chain settled a case out of court in December for £90,000. The condition is rare, but awareness is imperative as solicitors are actively encouraging the public to contact them if they have suffered a stroke or similar injury.
Healthy hands are essential to carrying out your role as a hairdresser. However, the emphasis for education and care of a young employee’s hands is on you as the salon owner and employer. If a hairdresser suffers from contact dermatitis they can bring a claim against you for up to three years. This could be from the date they first noticed the illness or when they realised or suspected the illness was related to their job. Have a policy, offer education and supply protective equipment and supervision to protect your business from this common occupational hazard.
4) Create a complaints procedure
Have a clear complaints procedure that you publish and follow in your salon. Consider the Consumer Rights Act 2015 when writing it and remember you have a duty of care to provide services for your clients that are fit for purpose. Some salon owners believe helping a client with a complaint is an admittance of guilt – but this is not the case. You can assist with a client’s complaint as a gesture of goodwill.
5) Maintain professionalism and minimum standards
If a service carried out in your salon is challenged, the team member who performed the service can be accused of not being experienced enough to carry it out. As a salon owner you need to prove that you are updating the knowledge and skills of your entire team on a regular basis.
Regular training is important, and certificates and photographs of participation are invaluable. Ensure your team never cuts corners or uses shortcuts. For example, high heat styling tools should only be used as a style enhancement and not in place of a straight blow-dry. Plus, if products exist to protect the hair from heat they should always be used. I have seen legal cases where a client was burned on the face with irons and another with a client’s neck cut with scissors. The fact is we are being held to very high standards, so we must always be putting our client’s and indeed our team’s health and safety first.
Prevention in action
In one of my salons we had an incident, but my team were alert and aware at the time of the scene, which prevented any legal issues. A woman made an attempt to enter the premises and fell into the salon from the street after tripping on a cracked tile.
The receptionist tended to her and soon realised it was possible we were being set up for a claim. She noted the woman’s details, recorded the incident in the accident book and took photos. Shortly afterwards we received a letter from the woman claiming she had been injured.
The receptionist noted the pedestrian precinct outside of our shop had trip hazards and broken tiles, so she called the local council to ask for advice. There is a specific measurement for whether a crack can be deemed hazardous. The council measured our crack and confirmed in writing that it was not deemed to be a danger to the public. We replied to the woman’s letter to say we were sorry she’d injured herself, but we were not liable for her fall and heard nothing more.
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