PRINCETON: Nail salons, beauty parlors may face regulation

By Philip Sean Curran, Staff Writer
Princeton is exploring creating new municipal regulations to protect workers and customers of nail salons, barber shops and beauty parlors in town.
Municipal health officer Jeffrey Grosser said Wednesday that he is researching the issue to determine how many such businesses exist in town and how many complaints they have generated to the state agency that regulates them. Though those businesses fall under state jurisdiction, there is interest to see if the town health department should expand its regulatory oversight to include them.
Board of Health Chairman Charles Rojer on Friday pointed to the health risks that nail salon workers and customers alike face from exposure to and contact with chemicals in the products. He said the risk to employees is more pronounced because they handle the products and have to breathe the fumes all day at work.
“The emphasis is on health, the health of the workers and the customers,” he said.
The focus locally on the issue flowed from an investigative story about the plight of nail salon workers in New York City. An expose in the New York Times earlier this year revealed how they are exploited. In response, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday signed legislation protecting nail salon workers from “unsafe working conditions and unfair labor practices,” his office said in a news release.
In an email Thursday, Princeton Councilwoman Heather H. Howard, the liaison to the board of health,  said the Times coverage “shone a light on a surprising new public health issue …” She said the board “is interested in looking at the local impact.”
Mr. Rojer said it “too premature” at this stage to say whether the board of health would adopt an ordinance, although such a step is within its power. The topic is due to come up at the Board of Health meeting tomorrow, Tuesday.
Mr. Grosser raised an issue about the enforcement ability of a new ordinance, given his department has only two inspectors on staff who also must enforce other regulations, including restaurant inspections.
Nail salons and other beauty care businesses fall under the jurisdiction of the state Division of Consumer Affairs. In New Jersey, someone needs to be at least 17 and meet training and other criteria to work as either a hair stylist, manicurist or skin care specialist.