Int Arch Occup Environ Health. 2021 Nov;94(8):2001-2013. doi: 10.1007/s00420-021-01719-6. Epub 2021 May 29.
BACKGROUND: Nail salon workers are an underserved population exposed to various occupational hazards. Comprised primarily of women and immigrants, these workers face challenges that further increase their workplace exposures and adverse health outcomes. Though previous studies have noted nail salon workers’ exposures, these studies have yet to explore the workers’ insights on intervention needs. This study among Michigan nail salon workers addresses this gap.
METHODS: This qualitative study was informed by the phenomenology methodological framework anchored within critical social theory. Participants were recruited from nail salons in Southeast Michigan to partake in focus groups. Interviews were recorded, transcribed, and analyzed using content analysis.
RESULTS: Three focus groups were conducted with 13 participants. Three major categories emerged. The first category, workers’ perceived work-related stressors, included six themes: lack of standardized policies, regulations, education/training; disconnect between education/training and real-world practice; inadequate knowledge on exposures and safety protocols; unsafe nail products; customer pressure; and immigrant-related pressures. The second category, health issues perceived to be directly related to workplace exposures, included two themes: symptoms experienced due to contact with nail products and symptoms due to poor ergonomics. The third category, participants’ perceived intervention needs, included four themes: continuing education; updates with new products; communication with key stakeholders; and partnership building and resource access.
CONCLUSIONS: To our knowledge, this is the first qualitative study among U.S. nail salon workers focused in Midwest. In addition to the noted individual and organizational-level interventions, policy level implications are discussed given discrepancies in training and practices across states.