Let me introduce myself; my name is Amy Bolton and I’m the Principal Trainer at SAMS Ltd. I’ve worked here for 3 years now. Many have asked me, why do I work in health and safety? Isn’t it boring? Isn’t it a bit strange from my last job? Today, I’m going to answer why.
My previous job role was a Hair and Beauty Lecturer at a local Further Education College so the swap didn’t seem the easy link. The sector itself is lacking in formal health and safety with staff at risk on a daily basis, using chemicals, exposed to manual handling and poor posture.
In my previous role, I spent nine years learning the industry, the tricks of the trade and encouraged individuals to feel better about themselves, boosting their self-esteem. As a Beauty Therapist, we are privileged to work closely with our clients at their most vulnerable.
Yet this industry is lacking in some of the most basic health and safety aspects; the expectations are high and individuals are working long hours, late evenings and weekends. The industry itself is worth approximately £7.5 billion to the economy, and around 94% of hair and beauty businesses employ fewer than 10 staff. Further still, around 2/3rds employ fewer than 5 staff.
The sector has around 250,000 workers across hair, beauty and barbering, but 54% of hairdressers and 57% of beauty therapists are self-employed with 60% being aged 16-34. This is as a result of the industry booming by 45% over the last 5 years.
Now, so far, I’ve told you the statistics of my industry but not really covered the why…
In 2011, as the country was getting excited for the London Olympics, I was working in a salon as an employee. While carrying out my treatments, seeing to clients and completing other work duties, I ended up being involved in a workplace accident.
I received an electric shock from an unsecured socket. This was as a result of my employer trying to carry out maintenance on the premises while it was open to public and as an unqualified person. At the time, I was young, naïve to the world of work and left vulnerable. There was no first aider present or accident reporting therefore leaving me wondering what to do with myself.
After recovering, I had concluded that there is a lack of training, experience and knowledge of health and safety across the sector and others could be in the position I was very easily, with no safety net of income when self-employed. This encouraged me to take up a teaching position, and make others aware of the dangers across the workplace and how to deal with them, ensuring their safety and that of others.
Most of the workers in this sector are young and self-employed, at the start of their careers, with many years ahead of them. For small businesses the legislations can seem daunting, confusing and unclear. Who’s responsible for what? Is it the premises owner, the business owner or the self-employed contractors? Health and safety can feel overwhelming if you don’t have any foundation in learning.
I do my job every day to help educate everyone across all sectors to stay safe, and keep them in work. I do it to support local businesses, engage with the local community and empower individuals. As Sir Frances Bacon said ‘Knowledge is power’.
If you’re feeling unsure on any health and safety matters, whether large or small, please consider a training course to boost your skills. We can help in all areas across health and safety from fire safety, manual handling through to mental health first aid. Please contact us to see how we can help.
Because at SAMS Ltd, we care!