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Just a bad hair day

February 26, 2015 at 4:50 PM

The unregulated industry - would you know what to do if you were harmed through hair treatment?

The UK hairdressing industry employs nearly a quarter of a million people across 55,000 businesses and, as with any industry of that size, standards and safety procedures often widely vary. However the UK hairdressing industry is also totally unregulated, meaning that almost anyone can set up a business as a hairdresser without any formal qualifications or recognised training.

Hair on the floor

The influence of fashion coupled with a desire by many to look younger, has led to a steady increase in spending on cosmetic services such as hair and beauty, even in times of recession. Most of us enjoy a visit to the hairdresser and usually the salon and individual we go to is a skilled professional who we've used for years and came highly recommended.

Yet with the sheer number of hairdressers, procedures and techniques out there the potential for something to go wrong is never far away.

What's the worst that can happen?

When I talk about things going wrong, I don't mean just badly cut hair or a poor style choice. I'm referring to an act of negligence where someone's action has left a person seriously injured through no fault of their own.

These injuries can range from minor lacerations or dermatitis to serious scalp burns and complete hair loss.

Issues with appearance can also lead to psychological injuries, which as you imagine is more common in women than men, but no less traumatic for the sufferer.

Hairdressers (not to mention barbers) rarely just use a comb, brush and pair of scissors. They have a variety of tools, chemicals and styling equipment at their disposal. So injuries through the incorrect use of bleach, waving equipment or tinting chemicals are likely to cause more suffering than a simple cut.

Current standards and the campaigners for regulation

To try and help combat and reduce salon injuries there have been recent calls by Welsh MP Nia Griffiths for a compulsory register to be put in place which would amongst other things protect people from 'unscrupulous' and 'incompetent' traders. However the Work and Pensions Minister, Mark Harper, said the move could not guarantee the quality of hairdressers - and that those who were poor at their job would go out of business very quickly. It was also argued that the creation of a register would cost the industry £75 million.

Currently it is voluntary to belong to a UK register of qualified hairdressers. The Hairdressing Council is one such organisation which holds a register and was established through the Hairdressing Regulations Act 1964. The hairdressing Council believes in the professionalism and passion of hairdressing. It campaigns to raise standards, and believes every hairdresser should be registered, a move which would 'eliminate the cowboys who practice hairdressing with no qualification or experience whatsoever'.

Professional hair stylist curling hair

Habia (the Hair and Beauty Industry Authority) is also an organisation licensed by the UK government to create the standards that form the basis of all qualifications in the hair industry which include:

  • • NVQs and SVQs
  • • Apprenticeships
  • • Foundation Degrees
  • • Welsh Baccalaureate Qualification (WBQ)
  • • Principal Learning (previously part of the Diploma in Hair and Beauty Studies)

As well as setting qualification standards Habia have lobbied the government for compulsory state registration stating:

"Britain is internationally renowned for their high standards in hairdressing and has some of the best training in the world but we must protect the UK public from unscrupulous hairdressers opening businesses on the high street."

Finally there are independent review sites such as Good Salon Guide and SalonSpy which aim to share recommendations and ratings of a hairdresser from previous customers.

Top tips to finding, being happy and staying safe with your hairdresser or salon

Gain a recommendation - Ask family and friends who they've used or heard good things about

Search the Hairdressing Council to see if your hairdresser has voluntarily registered (or find one that has)

Confirm their reputation - Check out reviews on the Internet to see if other customers are happy with the service they have received

Ask about qualifications - Is it obvious how their staff are qualified and trained, do they have a Public Liability Insurance Certificate on display?

Get a consultation - most hairdressers offer a free consultation and you can ask what products and techniques he/she intends to use, giving you an idea of their experience

Advise them of any allergies or conditions - Have you ever encountered problems with certain cosmetic products or brands, do you have any known allergies (latex etc.)

If after all these precautions, you do suffer an injury it is important to seek medical attention straightaway. The salon should ideally be informed as well, especially if the procedure involved chemicals or dyes, as knowing the specific chemical ingredients used may help aid treatment and recovery.

It is also recommended to seek advice from a specialist legal professional, as the distress, pain, long term treatment and effects of a hairdressing injury should not be underestimated.


Protecting consumers and the hairdressing industry

Even though there are organisations that provide training, assessments, and voluntary registration, it remains that an industry which performs a multitude of physical and chemical procedures is still for the most part self-regulated.

The scenario that anyone could choose to call themselves a hairdresser, without any checks or qualifications, is mindboggling and scary to me. Regulation in some form needs to be mandatory to stop people being injured in this way, as well as protecting the reputation of the majority of qualified hair and beauty professionals.


Do you think all hairdressers should be regulated to comply with a set standard? Or is the current self-regulated system working just fine?


About the author

Lynne Urpeth  PhotoLynne Urpeth is a litigator at Spencers Solicitors and has nearly 10 years experience in dealing with personal injury claims. Lynne currently handles a mixed liability caseload dealing with accidents at work, occupier's liability, public liability and criminal injuries compensation claims.

Posted in: Blog


Has concussion in rugby doubled, or are we just better at diagnosing it?

February 17, 2015 at 10:50 AM

I have blogged previously about the issue of head injury in sport, and so when George North hit the headlines last weekend - after being concussed twice in the match against England - I was concerned that yet another player had suffered serious injury after concussion went seemingly unnoticed during play.

However this incident, along with the England Professional Rugby Injury Surveillance Report that recounted a staggering 59% rise in concussions from 2013-14 compared to the previous season, has sparked major debate. In fact, the matter of head injury in sport, and of course especially in rugby, has been under intense scrutiny this week.

Welsh Scrum

Back in July 2014 I wrote about the ways in which different sports deal with concussion and said the following about rugby:

The IRB [now World Rugby] have recently introduced the Pitch-side Concussion Assessment, or 'the five-minute test'. During a game, a test can be requested by a team doctor or referee if they suspect concussion.
Concussion Management - If in doubt sit them out

A substitute comes to the field whilst the injured player is taken off the field to a medical room to be assessed for head injury symptoms. The player is then asked a series of questions such as 'where are we' and 'who was the last person to score' etc. The player is also subjected to a balance test similar to that used to test drunk drivers.


If the player gets one question wrong, has four balance errors and the presence of one of more symptoms of concussion the player is removed from the game, otherwise he is allowed to return to play. The new rules have had a mixed reception with some suggesting that five minutes is nowhere near sufficient to assess the severity of a concussion, whilst others suggest that the new off pitch assessment has resulted in a significant reduction in the number of concussed players returning to the field by 25% so there is evidence that the new system is working.


Pitch Side Assessment in Action

I am pleased to say that in the Wales v England game this pitch-side assessment was put to use. During the first half, George North was removed from play in accordance with the Pitch-Side Assessment and he was off for eight minutes before being allowed to return to play after being hit in the face by the boot of England's Dave Attwood.

The assessment procedure was not followed when the next concussive incident occurred in the second half because the incident was not spotted by the Welsh team doctors, or the referee. Following the match further assessments have taken place and the Welsh team have announced that North will miss the game with Scotland on Sunday this week despite showing no signs of concussion during his return to play protocol. The decision has been made because it has transpired that North suffered an earlier concussion in November 2014 and therefore an extended recovery period is felt necessary.

It is a reassuring sign that following the incident steps have been taken over and above the current protocols to ensure North is fully rested before he is permitted to return to full match play, however lessons still need to be learned.

More instances of concussion, or simply more awareness?

I do accept the suggestion within the Surveillance Report mentioned above that, at least in part, the rise can be somewhat accounted for by a better understanding and higher instances of reporting head injuries.

It is alarming however that the huge increase suggests there has been potentially significant under reporting, and I suspect further measures will only increase the number of reported cases further. Greater awareness and a change in attitude from grass roots to professional level is required to ensure serious head injuries are avoided wherever possible.

Some argue that the current Pitch-Side Assessment protocol is insufficient; critics include Barry O'Driscoll, former IRB medical committee member, who when commenting on Saturday's events said he was of the view that "players are being experimented on", and that player safety was being put in jeopardy by a "refusal to adopt a 'going off and staying off' policy when concussion is suspected".

Continuously improving concussion detection in sport

Now that the issue is so brightly in the spotlight, I am hopeful for further improvements for player safety.

World Rugby have accepted that their protocols need to improve, and steps are being taken to introduce video replay for home and away matches in the Six Nations. Global intervention is also anticipated, and I suspect further changes will be made to protocols to make it easier for the referee and team doctors to be made aware of potential incidents of concussion.

Whilst I am encouraged by the fact that the governing bodies are now taking further steps to protect players at the very top of their game, I hope too that further steps are introduced to ensure that those playing at grass roots level are also afforded the best possible protection in the absence of such luxuries as instant video replay.


Have you noticed rugby players are receiving better protection from concussion? Or does the sport still have a long way to go in protecting players at all levels?

About the author

Louisa Chambers PhotoLouisa Chambers is a Chartered Legal Executive and Solicitor within Spencers catastrophic injury team. Louisa has a great deal of experience in acting for clients who have suffered serious and life changing injuries through sports related accidents.

Louisa's previous blog was Where we're going, we (do) need roads, but maybe not a driver.

Posted in: Blog


'Where we're going, we (do) need roads', but maybe not a driver

January 30, 2015 at 12:20 PM

If like me you were a child of the 80's you will remember only too well the Back to The Future films which first hit our screens in 1985. Believe it or not, Back to The Future Part II was set in part, in 2015. You remember, flying cars, self-drying jackets, hover boards and those Nike self tying laces (which by the way, Nike are actually making this year in homage to the film).

Back to the future DeLorean on show

So I thought to myself, how far have we come in the last thirty years, since the film predicted our future?

Well, in 1985 the Polaroid Sun 600 camera was brought to the market with its instantly printed photographs, Windows 1 was launched, along with the Nokia Mobira Talkman (a mobile phone the size of a medium handbag), and we discovered there was a hole in the O-Zone.

Today, we have mobile phones that were incomprehensible in 1985, the internet has revolutionised access to information and whether we like it or not, the world is now a much smaller place. We instantly complain of 'buffering' when we have to wait for our internet connection - I remember going out for an entire afternoon waiting for my Commodore 64 computer to load a program! Safe as to say, we have come a long way.

We are living in exciting times, still in the midst of a technological revolution and, whilst we might not have flying cars, self driving cars might be closer to reality than you think.

Self Driving Cars in the UK

In 2014 the British Government pledged £19 million to help develop and test this technology on our streets. The cars are set to hit Milton Keynes, Coventry, Greenwich and Bristol in the initial tests.

Milton Keynes has a project called MK:Smart which aims to transform the town into one of the world’s 'smart cities'. One aspect of this project is the LUTZ Pathfinder Pod (pictured below) which is set to realise the potential of autonomous or self-driving vehicles: trials of the pods are due to start in 2015.

An early concept of the LUTZ Pathfinder pods

Personally, I am both excited and terrified at the prospect of a car that drives itself, and wait with baited breath for demonstrations of how these vehicles will work.

Don’t get me wrong, the prospect of relaxing in the car, possibly even eating my breakfast on my way to the office is great, but we all know computer technology, even in today's world, can be prone to going awry. 'Turning it off and turning it on again' might not be an option when you are doing 50mph on a dual carriageway.

In a collision, who would be to blame?

As a Solicitor specialising in personal injury I am concerned about how the technology will impact on safety both for passengers and other road users such as cyclists and pedestrians. Liability (or fault) in car accidents can already be complex to discover and attribute, and adding the further factor of an automated vehicle will only raise more questions.

• If a car, being controlled by its computer, is involved in a collision, who is to blame, the owner, the manufacturer or possibly both?

• What if the technology hasn't been maintained by the owner making it malfunction?

• If the car is going too fast who is liable for the speeding ticket?

Will all such cars be fitted with 'black boxes' and / or cameras so that data can be analysed in order to work out what went wrong? How will this be policed?

The law can be slow to keep up with changing times, even more so when progress is so rapid. I just hope the Government is investing as much time and money into considering the safety and legal implications of driverless cars as they are into the technology required to make them.


Would you ever buy a driverless car, or should the responsibility of operating a motor vehicle always lie with a human?


About the author

Louisa Chambers PhotoLouisa Chambers is a Chartered Legal Executive and Solicitor within Spencers complex injury team. Louisa has vast experience in acting for clients who have suffered serious and life changing injuries through road traffic accidents.

Louisa's previous blog was Head injuries in sport: knowledge is power, but only money talks....

Posted in: Blog


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