The Covering Beauty Blog

Everything you need to know about insurance for your beauty business.

What Happens When OSHA Inspects Your Business?

Posted February 5th, 2014 by Jeff Pulford

True Story as Told to Jeff Pulford

This is my story about how an OSHA (Occupational Safety & Health Agency) inspection affected my salon.  It is not intended to criticize OSHA or seek sympathy for myself.  (Ignorance is not a defense for non-compliance of a law.)  Safety for our employees and our clients is a serious matter.  A publicized safety or health incident could severely damage our industry.  What I hope to achieve by telling my story is to wake up our industry so that we are not a targeted group by OSHA in the future.

The beauty business must protect itself from negative publicity that could occur if we had a serious illness if we had a serious illness or injury.  We deal with chemicals and sharp tools every day.  Our workers have the right to a safe workplace, to understand what is in the products they use at work and to know how to protect themselves from hazardous chemicals.  When stylists use hazardous products, it is the responsibility of the salon owner or employer to follow OSHA’s standards.

OSHA OSHA regulates workplace safety.  Although OSHA regulations do not include a section specifically for salons or spas, all employers are subject to the general regulation that requires a workplace to be free from known hazards.  In addition to this general regulation, several specific OSHA regulations may apply to your salon or spa depending on its operations.

inspector-at-workI learned about these regulations the hard way at 1pm April 10th, 2013.  That was the day an OSHA inspector walked into my business.  OSHA inspections can be conducted without advance notice.  An inspector may walk through you salon to document what they see, review records, monitor chemical exposure and check overall sanitation, health, and safety conditions.  The inspector had what she called a Formal Employee Complaint, a written complaint where OSHA must conduct an on-site visit.  My choice was to cooperate and let her inspect the facility or she would come back with a search warrant.  It seemed like the best thing to do was to just let her do her inspection.

The issue that triggered the inspection was a written complaint from a current or past employee about the fumes given off from the solvent we used to clean the salon.  The inspector asked for a tour of the work areas, a copy of all hazardous chemicals, Personal Protection Equipment plan and proof of employee training.  She informed me that although she was there because of the one specific complaint, she had the right to cite me up to $7500 for any other violations she found.

The difficult thing about that day was that for 31 years of business, I always took pride in doing things the right way.  I complied with the best of my knowledge to any federal or state regulations.  In all of my education and reading of industry publications, I never learned anything about OSHA.  I only heard of OSHA when there was an accident at a large company.  What I didn’t know that day was that I was about to learn the hard way about OSHA regulations.


MSDSThe first thing the inspector wanted to see was a copy of my Hazard Communication and a list of MSDS sheets for all of our chemicals.  I had no idea what a Hazard Communication was at the time.  I had seen MSDS sheets from some of my distributors, but had no idea what to do with them.  I was caught off guard and totally unprepared.

Personal Protection Equipment Plan:

When we went to the supply room the inspector wanted to see my workplace hazard assessment for salon employees handling solvents and other chemicals.  The hazard assessment would evaluate the need for personal protective equipment (PPE), including appropriate gloves, eye protection, etc. while handling these materials.  Although we always provided gloves to the employees, I had no idea what a workplace assessment was.

The inspector then wanted to see the process we use for hair & nail services.  She wanted to monitor air quality while the staff was conducting these services.  While they were doing this she informed me that she had the right to speak to any and all of my employees.  That process consumed 4 hours of my employee’s time, which I was responsible to pay their wages at that time.

After all the drama of the inspection day it took three months before I heard back from OSHA.  I received a certified letter informing me that I was being cited for the following citations:

Citation 1:

The employer had not completed a Workplace Hazard Assessment for salon employees banding and pouring solvents and other chemicals.

Citation 2:

Employer supplied Microflex Ultraderm examining gloves for salon employees cleaning with solvents and using other chemicals.  These gloves are not rated as chemically resistant and do not maintain structural integrity under conditions of use.

Citation 3:

The employer did not have a written Hazard Communication Program for salon employees who were exposed to various chemicals, on site.

Citation 4:

Salon employees had not been trained on the requirements of the Hazard Communication or on the hazards associated with the use of those chemicals used in the salon.

The fines incurred for these citations totaled $9000.  I had 14 days to appeal the fines and meet with the regional director for OSHA.  I was advised to always appeal the fines.  In most cases the fines will be reduced.

osha-think-safety-firstThe fines were reduced in half to $4500 after meeting with the regional director.  In addition he required me to have an onsite safety consultation with California Occupational Safety and Health.  This is a free program to help businesses comply with OSHA regulations.  They helped me to abate all the violations that I was cited for and helped with other compliance issues.

Each state has a free onsite consultation program.  You can contact these agencies through the or by calling your local OSHA office.  I would highly recommend getting help from the onsite consultation program.  In my case I would not have been able to set up my program without their help.  This will help to make sure your program is set up correctly and lessen the chances of costly fines.  They will assist in setting up your safety program and identify any safety violations before you incur any violations.


The best place to start is at the OSHA website, .  Search for “Compliance Assistance Quick Start” and you will get an overview of 7 steps you will need to follow.  This will give you a great start to developing your OSHA plan.  This is a great place to start to learn what you need to do.


Health Insurance Laws

Posted December 16th, 2012 by Jeff Pulford

Happy Monday Beauty Pros!  You may know that we are experts at insurance when it comes to covering your beauty business with Professional Liability, General Liability, Property Coverage, and Workers’ Compensation.  We’d also like to let you know that we are currently researching and doing our best to help you with the new health insurance laws affecting salons, spas and barbershops.

We’ll do our best to keep up with this topic and keep you informed.  If you have a question in the meantime, please don’t hesitate to contact us.


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Avoid Salon Liability & Board Fines – Spring Cleaning!

Posted June 17th, 2011 by Katie

Summer is Just Days Away…

Which means flip flops, bathing suits and summer fun! It also means we need to make our appointments to have our manicures, pedicures, waxing and our hair cut and colored.  This is all good news for you as salon owners or independent stylists since you are heading into your busy season.

Good Housekeeping

A customer’s first impression of your salon is so important to the amount of business you do from referrals to walk-ins to long time clients. Good housekeeping shows that you take pride in your business and you promote a safe, clean, and healthy environment for your clients and your employees.

Keeping your work stations clean such as sweeping up the hair after each client will help prevent tripping hazards for both employees and clients. Pay attention to water spills by the washing basins and promptly clean up the spills to prevent slips and falls. Don’t forget most state boards also have their sharp fine pencils ready for these offenses too.

Additional good housekeeping practices include keeping all of your equipment and tools well maintained such as storing all disinfected items (such as combs, brushes, and manicuring tools) in a clean and covered place that is labeled disinfected or clean;  keeping your flat irons and curling irons off when they are not in use and the cords tucked away to prevent a tripping hazard; make sure your cabinet drawers to your stations are closed and not protruding electrical wiring from hair dryers or sharp objects.

It’s Never Too Late…

to correct any unsafe conditions. As our mother’s taught us to always put things back in their place to save time she was right. . A workplace that is free of clutter and is organized not only is a safer environment for our employees and clients it gives our customers the sense that we will take care of them…safely.  It is after all, consumer safety and ultimately a salon liability.

We all work and feel better when our clutter is in order and has a place. So practice good housekeeping and start your spring cleaning before summer officially starts on the 21st.

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Growing Your Salon or Spa Business Through the Tough Times

Posted May 21st, 2011 by Jeff Pulford

Have You Retreated?

Jan and Artie, owners of J & A Salon in Tucson took their first weekend off in years. It was September of 2010 (Remember when this recession economy started?).  They felt they needed to re-evaluate their salon business … and their life. A ‘retreat weekend’ was in order.

Jan and Artie had put their all into their salon business, attracting good employees and booth renters. They leased a space in a neighborhood of middle class working families. . The quality of their work was superb, and they prospered.

Then, ouch! … the recession of 2008 came along… a disaster for them. They worked harder, cut every possible expense, laid-off unproductive employees, and kept their best booth renters. They survived, but it was very difficult for them and their staff.

As their 2010 retreat approached, they were tired, a little scared and unsure what 2011 had in store.

Experience Counts

They decided to call Jan’s Dad. He was the one that recommended the beauty industry to them when they were starting out.  He also helped them get started financially and knew a lot about running small businesses.  Most of all … they trusted him.

Jan’s Dad owned an insurance agency that specialized in the beauty industry (salons, spas, schools, stylists and barbers).  He knew all the ins and outs of the business and risk sides of the industry.  He knew Jan and Artie could use some business insights to get back to being successful over the coming difficult years. The time of easy profits from plentiful clients in a good economy was over.

Back to Basics

He shared that their artistic skills were a given, but that it was good business practices, smart promotion/PR, good staff training and motivation, strong ethics, and fail-safe contemporary insurance that would set their salon apart, and attract and help them retain their good clients.

He got right to work, reviewing their financials, business practices and procedures, and completed a total business salon inspection based on not only the standard risk categories in a typical BOP (Business Owner Policy) but with the very specific issues around the operation of a salon. The three started a list of things important to the business that included:

  1. People: Themselves, salon workers, referrals, friends, distributors, and vendors.
  2. Financial: Accounting, profit and loss, pricing of services, costs of running a business, lawsuits, catastrophes, disability, and very importantly, expensive workers compensation.
  3. General: Marketing, advertising, education, health and welfare.
  4. Clients: A huge topic arena. He recommended Artie and Jan surveyed their clients to learn more about why they chose and why they have chosen to stay with their stylist and the salon.  The answers were not surprising but gave them the confidence of where to spend their time and money.

Their results were that the happy J & A Salon clients liked their stylist’s:

  • Personality
  • Quality of work.
  • Ease of scheduling.
  • General BTC professionalism.
  • Felt service prices were reasonable, competitive, and affordable.
  • The salon and stylist reliable and on-time for their appointments.

It was clear that in this difficult economy their clients were watching every dollar; and in the wake of some local stories in where clients had been harmed by beauty services (Nail infections, the formaldehyde controversy, etc.) , their clients were ever more mindful of safety concerns.

Jan, Artie and Jan’s Dad developed simple, inexpensive solutions that addressed to focus on client survey results andquests from their survey


Revamped and created a easier-to-understand menu with competitive pricing and numerous ‘special packages’ that ‘offered multiple service with increased client values.  Not discounts … values.


Made it easy and fast for clients to pay for services. Cash (change ready with safety precautions in place). Credit cards and debit cards – revamped salon’s credit card vendor … easy, safe, and a profit-saver. Examined client list and established clients’ special skills for trade and even set up a special payment program for clients on hard times).


Clients were made aware of the excellent insurance coverage their salon had in place for their safety and security. General Liability for slip and falls, products sold, and lease compliance. Professional Liability covering the salon and its employees, that included off-premises events like weddings and outside special events. Often missing from many policies.  Booth renters motivated to obtain their own highly affordable insurance policies as independent business people. This policy saved the salon money and  didn’t burden the independent booth renter with high premiums. Property and loss of income coverage also to come on line.

Health and Safety

No surprise that a salon is full of plumbing, electrical devices, and of course, chemicals.  Inspection, cleaning, and verified safety procedures outlined and clients were promotionally informed of everything their salon was doing that they probably would not be seeing for their safety at other salons.  Even down to simple, but client-obvious hand cleaning/disinfection dispensers at each station that speaks volumes about how client and stylist safety was paramount and helps ensure salon staff doesn’t transmit flu or colds to each other and/or the clients.

No Big Deal

After the weekend retreat, within one week, every task on the list was able to be completed. Electrical and plumbing issues repaired, Updated money procedures and insurance coverages reviewed and expanded. Calculate distance . The salon clean and safe, well-marked, and the most noticeable feature to all clients totally spotless bathrooms.

Cost Much?

Hardly.  Aside from their time, total cost for salon update was $522 including $318 for electrical and plumbing fixups.  Jan and Artie were elated, confident they would keep their current clients and excited about their next project.

Have You Ever Done a Retreat?



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Have You Ever Had a ‘Retreat’?



Posted February 25th, 2011 by Ashley Sebok

It Happens

We all have heard our fair share of horror stories about bad haircuts and haircolor over the years.  I hear them on the client side (and on the salon insurance and stylist insurance side too), and you hear all those, plus others, from your friends behind the chair as well.  True, it is just hair and it will grow back, but at the time of that bad cut we are devastated.  A bad haircut can bring tears to even the strongest of people.  How can we go out in public?  To work?  To school?  OMG!  We clients get pretty upset.

One Story

There is one particular nightmarish story embedded in my mind.  I share some of the aftermath of what I thought was a particularly bad situation.

I was in the chair getting my color done at my salon and a young woman came in and sat down in the chair next to my hairdresser’s station.  My hairdresser paused from her work on my hair and leaned down to give her a big hug and asked how she was doing?  I could see scars and burn marks on the woman’s face and left side of her neck.  I knew this wasn’t one of those cheery, standard ‘how are you doing’ kind of questions; my stylist was clearly interested in the answer.  The client said, “I’m doing okay, and just had the second skin graft done”.

Here’s What Happened.

My hairdresser asked the woman if it was okay to tell me what happened and she began to share her horror story.  Four months earlier she had gone to another salon to have her hair straightened.

Our hairdresser who normally cuts and colors her hair doesn’t offer relaxing or straightening.  The salon this woman went to is well known and highly recommended in our community, so she went there, had a consultation, and the stylist applied the relaxer to her hair.

She was sitting letting it process and some of the relaxer was dripping down the side of her face and left side of her neck.  She walked over to the hairdresser and told her it was initially tingling but now it had started to burn slightly.

The stylist told her it was normal to have a little burning and she would check on her in a few minutes.  10 minutes passed and it started to really burn.  She said it felt like her face, neck and head was on fire.  She was getting scared, anxious, and panicked.  She stood up and ran over to her stylist and was on the verge of tears from the pain, and being scared.

The stylist said she was rinsing another client and would be with her when she was done.  Another client that was processing her color was watching this nightmare unfold took control of the situation.  There wasn’t an open sink at the shampooing area so she rinsed the relaxer out in the bathroom sink.  The woman’s scalp, neck, and face had second degree burns.  She was admitted into our local hospital and evaluated.

Due to the nature of the burns, and the fact they were on the face area she was told skin grafts would be necessary.  The owner of the salon offered to pay for her medical bills and they settled on a large undisclosed amount.

It Doesn’t Always End Well.

We all love going to the salon and spa and leaving feeling beautiful .  For the most part, 99% of the time our experiences are good.  But in each of our lifetimes we are going to have some bad experiences.  The risk and exposure is there.

So to answer the question … Can I sue my hairdresser?  … The answer is YES!  Pretty easily.

The Remedy

As  a hairdresser, can you protect your business and assets in the event of a lawsuit?  The answer is YES!  Very easily.

The remedy is to make sure you have good Stylist Insurance (Professional Liability Insurance) or Barber Professional Liability Insurance in place for a minimum coverage of $1,000,000.  The national average cost for just the professional liability for each stylist/hairdresser/barber whether you are an employee or independent is between $20-$60 a year. This is pennies compared to a lawsuit that could cost you $20,000, $30,000, or even $500,000.

Since we know mistakes do happen to even the most diligent of stylists, the only way to protect your business, your assets and pay for medical bills and defense costs if there is a claim is to make sure you have Stylist Insurance or Barber’s Insurance (Professional Liability Insurance) coverage in place.

Your Responsibility

You have two responsibilities you must live up to as a stylist or salon owner.

  1. The responsibility of protecting your client and …
  2. Your responsibility to protect your business.

What Coverage Do You Have? Comment Below.



Happy Valentine’s Day! Care for a Glass of Wine or Champagne?

Posted February 14th, 2011 by Ashley Sebok

Today is Valentine’s Day

It’s a good opportunity to raise a little red flag for salon and spa owners, independents, school owners, and barbers.

Personally, it’s a holiday I have mixed feelings about.  Is it Cupid’s holiday … a day for love, and romance?  Or, is it Hallmark’s holiday …  a day marked by the purchase of cards, candy, flowers, and champagne?  Either way, it’s a day that helps boost our local businesses from the last minute floral purchases, to shopping for just the right card at our local drug store, to making an appointment to have our hair blown dry and styled for our 7pm dinner reservation.

Speaking of dining out wouldn’t a glass of wine or champagne at the salon sound great while we decompress in the chair after a long day at work while someone else is taking care of me?  Sounds fabulous.  Well if you are like me, when you’re asked by your stylist, “Would you like a glass of wine or champagne” you say, “Of course,  I’d love a glass of champagne.

Tough Question

The question isn’t as benign as it sounds since it is wine or champagne we are talking about.  When a client answers ‘yes’ to any alcoholic beverage,   they are putting your business at risk.  What happens if your client has one or two glasses of champagne, wine, or a cocktail at your salon, then gets behind the wheel of their car and has an accident, or hits someone?

Enter Your Liability

If your salon serves alcohol you need to understand your responsibility and legal liability exposures.  Most commercial general liability policies for salons cover Host Liquor Liability up to $1,000,000 which provides coverage against bodily injury and property damages from lawsuits by third parties injured by an intoxicated person who was served alcohol (free of charge) by a business.  As long as your business does not manufacture, distribute, sell, or serve alcohol for a fee then most general liability policies will automatically cover you for host liquor liability.

You probably think that your client would be the one to be sued, not your business since they consumed the alcohol, got behind the wheel, and caused the accident.  Wrong!

Many states have passed laws called Dram Shop Liability.  These laws make it possible to sue the business (your salon) that served the alcohol to a minor or intoxicated person.  These dram shop laws also allow the victims of the drunk driver to sue the business that served the alcohol.  These claims can easily reach upwards and over $1,000,000, especially if there is a death involved.  Some states even allow criminal charges to apply.

4 Things You Can Do to Help Protect Yourself and Your Salon

It only takes ‘one’ of these kinds of law suits to financially cripple, or destroy your business and everything you worked so hard to build.  Here are 4 things you can do to protect yourself and your salon.

  1. Review with your insurance agent and ask them if your general liability policy covers your business for Host Liquor Liability?  It should and there is no additional charge for this coverage.  It is built into most commercial general liability policies. Your agent can refer you to the section of the policy that explains this coverage and that way you have it in writing that you have coverage. Ask how much more the premium would be for a higher coverage.
  2. If you are serving alcohol, find a polite way to ask who the designated driver(s) will be.
  3. Limit the alcohol served to your clients. Be aware of your state’s blood alcohol limits and do your own silent consumption timing.
  4. Offer to arrange transportation if a client has been over-served or seems intoxicated.

You want to make sure you have done everything in your power to ensure your client gets home safely and doesn’t injure anyone else along the way.

Have you done everything you can to protect your business and your clients?

Four simple things will provide you that margin of protection should the worst happen.  Meanwhile, have a great Valentine’s Day … and do enjoy that glass of champagne!

Ashley Sebok

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A Wonderful ISSE Experience for Insure Beauty

Posted February 1st, 2011 by Alex

It Was Great Meeting You!

Our team had an exhausting, but wonderful time meeting up with so many of you during the show.  Thanks for dropping by our booth and for signing up to win one of the free Sailing Cruises on Monterey Bay and grabbing your free photo during the show. Each cruise prize is worth $600.

More Than We Expected.

What we found especially gratifying were the number of independent stylists asking why you needed your own business insurance policy.  As you learned, the insurance coverage your salon landlord carries isn’t quite as complete as you thought it was under a number of circumstances and can leave you more than a little vulnerable.  Thanks for all your questions.

LIKE Insure Beauty on Facebook.

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(Retail value $499.00)

Winners Announced Feb 28th

iPad winners to be announced on February 28th on Facebook.  Individual cruise winners will be notified on Facebook and by private email.

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The Lone Ranger at the ISSE in Long Beach?

Posted January 27th, 2011 by Admin

Who Was That Masked Man?

Someone always asked that at the end of each episode of the Lone Ranger radio and TV programs.  After doing their good work, the Lone Ranger and Tonto always quietly disappeared into the sunset not seeking recognition from the very people they had saved.  Insure Beauty has been a little like that.

We’ve never made much of a fuss about ourselves.  Some of our clients thought we were being silly and needed to get more with the times and show up at a few more parties.  So this year we’re taking their advice and have decided to exhibit at a few 2011 beauty industry shows.

Our first is the International Salon & Spa Expo at Long Beach, Booth # 3109 in the Arena.

Frankly, we’re pretty darned excited and hope you’ll drop by for a visit.  Don’t forget to ….

‘Sign-In to Win’ Luxury Cruising on Monterey Bay

We thought we’d try to catch your eye with the opportunity to win one of five free cruises for you and up to 5 of your guests aboard the beautiful  47’ “Bella on the Bay” luxury racing yacht. (Retail value $600.)

Sign-In to Win at at the Long Beach Show OR get a leg up and click the register buttom.

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